A HOLY Family School teaching assistant has died from a heart condition at the age of 45.
Donna Marie Gaughan worked with students with special educational needs at the Keighley school.
Ingrow mother-of-three Donna’s husband Eugene is also a teaching assistant at Holy Family.
Skipton-born Donna met Eugene when they were both working together at Silentnight in Sutton in the late 1980s, and they married in 1990 then moved to Keighley.
Donna left Silentnight to bring up the couple’s three children, Ryan, Zachery and Paige-Marie, and she returned to work five years ago when she started at Holy Family School.
Mr Gaughan said his wife had been very keen on football, supporting both Manchester United and whatever teams he played in.
He is a long-time semi-professional with Cottingley Dynamos and has also played for – and more recently coached -- teams in Keighley.
Mr Gaughan said: “Donna said she was a footballer’s wife without the salary. All her life she’s brought the family to see me play.
“She was also a big Manchester United fan.”
Ryan has followed in his father’s footsteps by playing football for an Eccleshill team while Donna’s other love, horse riding, helped inspire their other son Zachery to become a jockey.
Mr Gaughan said his wife had been very small, but also a very strong woman.
He said: “She always had a smile on her face. She used to say I was her clown, making her laugh, but basically she was the rock.”
Mr Gaughan said Donna had suffered a heart attack two years ago and pulled through, but since then had suffered problems with her arteries.
Holy Family School – where Donna worked in 'The Bridge', with students with additional needs, including physical difficulties, dyslexia and autism – has paid tribute.
Andrea Pritchard, the school‘s special education needs co-ordinator, said Donna was a highly valued and popular member of The Bridge, who worked incredibly hard.
She added: “Donna was an excellent key worker to a student with autism who adored her because of her kind and caring nature.
“She regularly spent time with the students and they could often be heard laughing together.
“Donna always took time to listen to students and support them with their difficulties.
“Donna always came to work with a smile on her face and put all of her effort into working well with the students and staff.”