Tributes flood in for a ‘true inspiration’

Wendy Sykes died aged 71
Wendy Sykes died aged 71

A POPULAR volunteer named one of the Herald’s 2013 Community Stars has died at the age of 71.

Wendy Sykes died of anorexia at Worthing Hospital on March 26.

Wendy was born with a hole in her heart, and was the first girl in England to have a life-threatening operation to repair it.

She was treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1955, and her family were told she would only live to 30.

Her sister, Jaynie Sykes-Strudwick, said Wendy had to be frozen in an ice bath prior to the pioneering procedure, carried out by Dr Richard Bonham Carter.

Born in Banbury in 1942, Wendy moved to Lancing in 1996, and spent much of her time volunteering, with the 4th Lancing Scouts and the St Barnabas and Mind charity shops.

She appeared in Puss in Boots with the Lancing Repertory Players, did sponsored slims for charity, worked as a lollypop lady, and even trained as a referee for boys football matches when there were not enough to go around.

“She took no nonsense from men,” joked Jaynie.

Rita Laraway knew Wendy for more than 20 years.

“Everything that was around that she could do, you can bet your life she would be there helping,” said Rita.

“She loved children and dressing up she helped run clubs. Nothing was ever too much trouble for her.

“She had some rotten times but never made a fuss.”

Rita said it was a shock when Wendy died because nobody knew she was so ill.

Vivienne Coulson worked with Wendy in the St Barnabas charity shop for seven years.

“She was very fun-loving even though she had ill health,” said Vivienne.

“She was very funny and had a really good sense of humour.

“She was a very hard worker who had a good rapport with the customers.

“She was a lovely lady who will be sadly missed.”

One of Wendy’s closest friends, Heather Wilson, described her as ‘very caring’ and said simple things pleased her.

“She led a simple life,” said Heather. “Her main aim was to help people.”

Wendy won the True Inspiration award at the Herald’s 2013 Community Stars ceremony.

All are welcome at Wendy’s funeral, to be held at Lancing Methodist Church on April 11 at 12.45pm.