A WOMAN who helped protect vulnerable children has died suddenly.
Claire Peacock, 37, a social worker, of Grange Road, Henley, collapsed in a shopping centre car park in Aylesbury while with a colleague.
She was taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital where she died on Wednesday last week. It is thought she died from bleeding on the brain — she suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2006 and had needed annual check-ups.
Ms Peacock, who had worked for Buckinghamshire County Council for 10 years, lived with her children, Freya, 17, and Finley, 14.
Her partner Gary Boys, of Station Road, Henley, said: “Claire was totally engaging. Within the first few seconds she made you feel totally at home talking to her. Everyone got on with her. There wasn’t anyone who would have a bad word to say about her. Everyone knew her as a loving, fun, outgoing and entertaining character.
“She was devoted to her children, her work and Henley. She loved the community spirit.”
When she suffered her haemorrhage eight years ago, Ms Peacock was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and had a bed next to Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, who had suffered a serious head injury during a match against Reading.
Mr Boys, a marketing consultant, said: “I remember Claire telling me that all the Chelsea team turned up. She told me that some were chatting her up but celebrity faces didn’t faze her.
“After that she had to have an annual check-up and each time she was given the all-clear she would be given another two years’ life expectancy.
“In the last scan she had last year she was given the all-clear. There was nothing there to say this was going to happen. Claire didn’t fear death, she laughed at it. To her every day was a day she grasped from death and lived life to the full.”
Mr Boys and Ms Peacock had been going out for more than three years. They met at the Row Barge pub in Henley.
He said she was a “beautiful, stunning woman,” adding: “Her dimples were the first thing I noticed about her.”
Mr Boys said Ms Peacock was dedicated to her work.
“She put everything into it,” he said. “She kept studying and getting promotions and would be fearless in taking on cases no one else would want.
“She would say, ‘it has been great today — I went into a hospital with six police officers to remove a child from bad parents’.”
Her own daughter is a student at The Henley College, and her son attends Gillotts School.
In a statement, the children said: “Our mummy was happy, always smiling and full of life. Mummy never took life too seriously, she was a true free spirit and we both have such lovely memories of our time together.
“Mummy worked so hard to improve the lives of many children that she worked with and to give us a good quality of life.
“Mummy was very proud of us and we are going to make sure that she will look down upon us with the same pride. We are both so sad that she has to leave us so soon but as long as she keeps smiling we will too!
“Mummy will remain in our hearts forever more and most certainly will never be forgotten. She will live through us now and see life as we do.”
Ms Peacock trained to be a social worker at Manchester University after divorcing her husband Ollie Tubb in 2002.
The couple and her mother Karin had owned the former Blue Moose bar in Duke Street, which is now Café le Raj, from 2000 to 2002.
In the late Nineties, Ms Peacock was secretary of Henley Rugby Club.
Martin Unsworth, who was then the club’s general manager and is now a lecturer at The Henley College, said: “She was a fantastic, bubbly and very special lady.
“She was a loving, caring person with two terrific kids and my heart goes out to them.”
Ms Peacock has previously worked at the White Hart Pub in Northend, where she met her husband. They lived together in Cromwell Road, Caversham, and were married at Turville Church when she was 21.
She was born at Townlands Hospital in Henley in 1976 and lived with her parents in Milton Close before the family moved to Northend when she was three. She was educated at Turville School, Frieth School, Gillotts School in Henley and The Henley College.
Her sister, Sophie, 40, lives in Harpenden and brother, Stephen, 33, a carpenter, lives in London.
Mrs Peacock said: “Claire meant the world to me. She was adventurous and outgoing — as a child she used to paint little stones and try to sell them.
“She was so bubbly and lively and always positive and was always helping people.
Her sister said: “Claire was not only my sister, she was my best friend and was someone I could confide in. She was just an amazing auntie for my four girls.”
Ms Peacock’s best friend, Julie Callcutt, of Priest Hill, Caversham, said: “No words are adequate to convey the loss that all of those who loved Claire feel. She is an irreplaceable mother, sister, daughter, auntie and friend.
“No other friend in my life has ever come close to the bond that I shared with Claire. Our friendship was totally natural, undemanding and required no effort and that is why it stood the test of time.”
Stephen Bagnall, service director for children and families at the borough council, said: “Claire was leading a team of social workers who worked with children in need of protection or children in need of care. This is very difficult and challenging work.
“Claire did it really well — she was very good at her job and is greatly missed by her workplace. Some of the situations she dealt with were very complex, very difficult and challenging and Claire was always up to that and was never fazed by anything.”
Ms Peacock’s funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church, Henley, on Thursday from 11.30am. This will be followed by a private cremation. The family have asked for no floral tributes but instead donations in support of Freya and Finlay.
For more information, call funeral directors A B Walker and Son on (01491) 413434.