‘Sarah was thinking of others to the end’

Sarah Gardner with husband Dave, known to friends as Andy
Sarah Gardner with husband Dave, known to friends as Andy

The husband of a Leyland mum who died after a car accident on the motorway has paid tribute to his childhood sweetheart.

Sarah Gardner, a 39-year-old nurse who lived with her loving family in Stanifield Close, Farington, died in hospital after travelling back from visiting family in Birmingham last weekend.

Her husband Dave, known to friends as Andy, has now told how his partner of almost 25 years always made the most of life, and was loved by everyone who knew her.

The 40-year-old said: “Sarah was very outgoing and she was always caring for people.

“She had a good word to say about everyone and she put other people first.

“She was very much loved and she was always thinking of ways to help people.

“She was an organ donor too, so she was even thinking of others right up until the end - that’s what she was about.”

The couple first became an item when Sarah was just 14 years old and Andy was 15, as they were both members of the Lostock Hall Brass Band.

“She lived in Tarleton and I lived in Lostock Hall at the time,” Andy recalled. “I used to ride on my push bike to see her every weekend, but mostly we were just very busy with the band.”

They married in June 1994 – having celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary with a special meal out just a month before the accident – and moved into their first home together in Penwortham.

They moved to Stanifield Close around three years later, and had daughter Bethan, now 15, followed by son Jack, 11.

“Family was Sarah’s number one priority,” Andy said. “We all enjoyed holidays and days out together, walking the dog and having barbecues.”

Sarah originally grew up in Birmingham and moved to Lancashire when she was in her early teens with her mum, dad and brother.

They kept in contact with relatives still living in Birmingham, and it was on the journey back from a day out there on Sunday, July 28, that the family of four were involved in the collision.

It happened at around 4pm on the northbound carriageway of the M6 toll road near Chasetown in Staffordshire.

Sarah, who was the front seat passenger, suffered serious head injuries and was airlifted to the major trauma centre of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, but died the next day, having never woken up.

Andy was unhurt, while Bethan and Jack had cuts and bruises.

The female driver of the other car involved in the collision was taken to hospital for treatment, but was discharged later that night.

Andy cannot remember much about the accident, and Staffordshire police are still investigating the circumstances which lead to the collision.

Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalised, but Andy said the family is arranging a ‘colourful’ and fitting send-off for his beloved wife.

- To read the full story, see this week’s Leyland Guardian.