A campaign has been launched in honour of a special needs teaching assistant in Co Down who choked to death in her family home on Thursday.
Sherry Campbell, a 29-year-old from an area known as Orlock near Groomsport in Co Down, was found dead by her father Shannon on Thursday morning after having choked on a piece of food.
Danielle Elmes, a close friend of Sherry’s since childhood, has set up an online fundraising campaign with the intention of sponsoring a school pupil with special educational needs in honour of her late friend. The campaign also aims to help raise awareness of the dangers of choking while alone.
She said: “The JustGiving page is our starting point and ideally what we want to do is to start a foundation to help a special educational needs child in the school where Sherry worked.
“Sherry was in Strangford College, where she worked as a teaching assistant for those children who needed that special educational assistance.”
Danielle continued: “We want to start a foundation that’s going to provide a teaching assistant for a pupil for as long as we can.
“Hand-in-hand with that, we want to raise awareness of what happened.”
She explained: “Unfortunately, it’s actually reasonably common. We want to raise awareness of what people can do if they find themselves in that position because if it happens, and you are on your own, you literally have seconds to save your life. If you are on your own you can, for example, put yourself up against a door and attempt to perform a Heimlich manoeuvre on yourself. It is so important that people know what to do because every second that goes by depletes your oxygen and depletes your strength.”
The heartbroken close friend said she had known Sherry all her life: “Sherry had lived all her life in Orlock. Sherry’s mother and my mother had been friends since even before Sherry was born, and when she was born we were neighbours. We have grown up together. I’m older than her and when she was born she was the first baby that anyone had ever let me hold.”
Danielle added: “As we got older and I had children, she was there when I had them and she was always there for me and my children.”
Sherry Campbell will be laid to rest after her funeral on Wednesday at 2pm in St Comgall’s Church on Bangor’s Brunswick Road.