‘Gentle’ Hayley (29) remembered after rare blood illness death

Hayley Hazley
Hayley Hazley

A mother, midwife and scout leader who passed away from an extremely rare blood immune disorder has been described as a “wonderful, calm and gentle” person.

Hayley Hazley, from Portadown, passed away at the age of just 29 in Belfast City Hospital on December 10 after a seven-month battle with an extremely rare blood immune disorder - Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis or HLH - which affects one in 1.3 million of the population.

Hayley, who was born in England but moved to Portadown with her family in her childhood, is survived by husband Stuart and their two-year-old daughter Olivia, parents Nigel (Ted) and Alison Edwards, sister Kirsty, parents-in-law Brian and Helen Hazley, and grandmother Barbara Hewitt.

The extended family, the staff at Craigavon Area Hospital, and everyone throughout the local Scouting movement in Portadown are devastated by the death of such a talented, dedicated young woman, whose willingness, enthusiasm and radiant smile endeared her to everyone who knew her.

Hayley, a qualified nurse, worked for a year at Sandringham Care Home in Portadown before gaining a second degree, in midwifery. Her love for the profession and her compassion for people were evident when she chose an unusual and difficult placement during her studies.

She went to Kiwoko Hospital in rural Uganda, which was opened in 1991 after initial work by Bangor GP Ian Clark. It has 250 beds, and is widely supported from Northern Ireland. Hayley enjoyed the placement – she went with a nurse and doctor from the Province, and it further focused her commitment to health and welfare.

She often reflected that the experience changed her as a person. She found it difficult to accept that services in Africa were so basic and Spartan, compared with the luxury of the NHS back home.

After graduating, she worked for a while as a community midwife in Heartlands in the Birmingham area, and then returned to County Armagh as a midwife in Craigavon Area Hospital, respected by colleagues and patients.

Hayley remained an enthusiastic member of the Scouts. She joined 4th Portadown (St Mark’s) at the age of 14, and moved through the ranks to become a leader in the Beavers, which caters for the 6-8 age group.

Paul Walker, overall leader of the St Mark’s group and County Commissioner for Armagh, said: “She had a wonderful calm and gentle way, and showed great patience. We feel as though we have lost a close family member.”

Hayley’s family have thanked her closest friends - Louise Barclay, Charis Elliott and Charlie Treanor - for their love and concern throughout the traumatic times. “They were so helpful,” said her mum. “They will miss her. We’ll all miss her.”

Rev William Orr, Rector of St Mark’s in Portadown, conducted the thanksgiving service on December 15, and the tributes were paid by her father, by her sister Kirsty, and by cousin Lucy McConnell. They praised Hayley for her commitment and compassion in all aspects of her busy life and spoke of her infectious smile and talent for inspiring people.