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Life saving legacy of Soft Border Patrol star Julie Maxwell-Lewis who died suddenly

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Julie Maxwell

Julie Maxwell

Stacey (left) with sister Julie

Stacey (left) with sister Julie

Julie Maxwell

The sister of Soft Border Patrol TV star Julie Maxwell-Lewis, who died suddenly on a Saturday night out with her husband nearly a year ago, has launched a fund-raising campaign to buy life-saving equipment in her memory.

And in just over a week Stacey McCann has already received enough donations to purchase four defibrillators - not just the one she initially hoped to buy for the pub where she died.

Julie (36), who was a renowned actress on stage as well as television, collapsed on August 24 last year in the Sunflower bar in the centre of Belfast. Although staff performed CPR and medical teams at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, did everything they could for her, she passed away.

"One of the doctors told me that it didn't make sense how she could be gone in an instant," said Stacey, who added: "We genuinely don't know if a defibrillator would have saved Julie but we would have tried anything to keep her alive.

"We decided to buy a defibrillator for the Sunflower but the response to the fund-raising campaign on our JustGiving page has been so overwhelming that we'll probably end up buying them for half of Belfast.

Growing up I always looked up to Julie. She was funny and she was always doing silly impersonations to cheer people up if they were down in the dumps. She was caring and kind-hearted and she would never see anyone going without Stacey McCann

"Over 200 people have already pledged over £5,000 and we aren't stopping now. We intend to buy as many defibrillators as possible because they can save lives."

Stacey said she still had not come to terms with her older sister's death, adding: "My world was blown apart a year ago when I got the phone call to say she had passed away. She was my big sister and my best friend.

"Growing up I always looked up to Julie. She was funny and she was always doing silly impersonations to cheer people up if they were down in the dumps. She was caring and kind-hearted and she would never see anyone going without.

"But there was no warning about her death; no illness; no time to prepare for having to cope without her.

The tragedy was the third to strike the family who lost an uncle to a heart attack and a young cousin due to what medics said was sudden death syndrome.

Stacey said she wanted people to remember Julie, who was married to Welsh actor Rhodri Lewis, not only for her "amazing creative talent but also for the class person she was".

She added: "Julie gave so much to the world in 36 years - most than most people do in a longer lifetime."

Next month Stacey is asking Julie's friends to take part in Sunday hikes up Cavehill and snap selfies in her honour. On Sunday, September 27 Stacey and her children Alex (11) and Gracie (6) will climb Cavehill where the family will announce just how much money they have amassed and how many defibrillators they will buy.

She said: "My kids absolutely adored Julie. Like the rest of the family they still can't believe that their auntie won't be coming back and making them laugh the way she did."

www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/julielewis

Belfast Telegraph