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Brownie leader death mystery
Published 11/02/13

THE family of a mother-of-two who died suddenly have paid tributes to her.

Claire Armitage, 27, was found dead at her home in Farleigh Mews, Caversham Park Village, by her mother.

Police have said they are not treating her death as suspicious but her brother has said he believes it was the result of her diabetes condition. Ms Armitage, a brownies leader, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 15 and had an insulin pump fitted to her hip in April last year.

Her mother Jane, of Shiplake Bottom, Peppard, said Claire adored her children, Oliver, four, who attends Caversham Park Pre-school, and Daisy, two.

Mrs Armitage said: “Claire was always smiling — she was funny, kind and terrific company. Everyone thinks their daughter is lovely but Claire really was.

“You just need to look at the flowers and cards I’ve received from people I don’t even know saying she will be missed. It just shows how much she did for other people.”

Mrs Armitage, who is married to Jeff and has two other children, Paul, 24, and Steven, 22, said Claire was like her best friend.

“I would see her most days and it wasn’t often when we wouldn’t see each other,” she said. “Claire would turn up but wouldn’t just be here for an hour, she would stick around for a long time. We’re a very close family and we would do things together. The children love us and we love them and Claire made sure we kept in touch.

“She was always doing things with them but she rarely took them out on her own because she would invite us.

“It was never about her, it was about other people and she wanted us all to go along.

“Having a close family is what will get us through this.”

Ms Armitage, who worked at the Co-operative Bank in Reading, separated from her husband of five years in July and changed her married name of Swannell back to her maiden name by deedpoll. She was a former pupil at Sonning Common Primary and Chiltern Edge and Highdown Schools. She graduated with a degree in music and German from the Open University in 2010.

She used to work as a sales representative for Avon cosmetics and at the Happy Days Pre-School in Nettlebed.

Mrs Armitage, a former chairwoman of Sonning Common Parish Council, said: “A lot of people know her from when she was at Avon but she was always doing something. She never just sat round at home doing nothing. She was just busy all the time.”

She had been the Chilterns district commissioner for the brownies and was the leader of the 1st Kidmore End pack, having qualified when she was 18.

Mrs Armitage said: “She was actually quite young to get her warrant and she had been running her own pack for quite a long time. It took up a lot of her time.”

The two women had taken part in a number of charity walks together after Mrs Armitage was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996 but later given the all-clear.

Six years ago, they completed a 40-mile walk in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer and in 2011 they finished the Shine moonlight walk for Cancer Research UK

Steven will be running in the London Marathon in April to raise money for Diabetes UK in memory of his sister.

He has already received 300 in donations from parents of rainbows and brownies from her packs.

Mr Armitage said: “I’m running for Diabetes UK because my sister died due to diabetes. Many people do not realise the dangers of diabetes and sadly it cost the life of my sister.

“I was very close to Claire. There always seems to be a special relationship between the youngest and oldest siblings in any family and we seemed to have that.

“If I ever said to her, ‘I need a place to stay tonight’ she never questioned it and always used to make me feel welcome.”

They often went to London Irish games together and used to attend the club’s St Patrick’s Day party. “I will always remember her for those trips,” said Mr Armitage.

Police were called to Ms Armitage’s home at 5pm on Monday last week. Paramedics from South Central Ambulance Service were already there and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

An inquest into the cause of death is expected to be held by the Berkshire coroner.

There will be a private family funeral.

To sponsor MrArmitage, visit www.justgiving.com/steven-armitage13

Published 11/02/13

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