Published: 11:47, 12 May 2022
| Updated: 11:49, 12 May 2022
A mum whose firefighter husband collapsed and died without warning at work has channelled her grief into fundraising.
Popular Danny Haxton, 37, fell ill just minutes into his shift, and colleagues were sadly unable to resuscitate him.
His wife, Nikki Haxton-Jones, had been celebrating her 37th birthday at home in Whitstable Road, Faversham, with their children, Olivia, 10, and Harry, eight, at the time of the tragedy in July 2017.
"He was on station and collapsed suddenly," said Nikki. "Unfortunately he was behind a locked door at the time, getting changed, so he wasn’t found straight away.
"It was just really unfortunate timing.
“The lads on station were the ones that had to do CPR when they found him.
"I think we’ve got some comfort in a way, knowing they had the training and no one else would have tried harder than they did, but it was incredibly hard on them.”
The family later discovered devoted dad Danny had unknowingly had pneumonia in both of his lungs at the time.
“It’s really bizarre," said Nikki. "He played cricket the day before, he went cycling and he’d been working, but we didn’t know. They think it triggered an arrhythmia."
Nikki was faced with grappling with her own grief, as well as the new challenge of single-handedly caring for the couple's two children.
That was five years ago.
Since then Nikki has devoted herself to raising money for The Fire Fighters Charity in memory of Danny, who worked for London Fire Brigade and had himself raised money for the charity.
The 41-year-old - who now herself works in the control rooms at Kent Fire and Rescue Service - says she wants to continue her late husband's legacy and support the charity that is there for her, her family, and Danny's former colleagues.
The Fire Fighters Charity offers lifelong health and wellbeing support to the whole of the UK fire services community, as well as spouses, partners and dependants.
Nikki has so far raised more than £7,600.
She has made it her mission to organise and take part in fundraisers ranging from abseils and runs to sports matches and bucket collections, with her colleagues, Danny's former colleagues, and her children - now 15 and 12.
“Danny was a positive person so we really didn’t want it to be all negative at the time," explains Nikki.
“The lads on station did a ladder climb two or three weeks after [Danny's death], then we did the Vitality 10K, a charity cricket match, the Great North Run – it went on from there.
"The kids, especially with the cricket, were able to play with friends during a lot of the events and, importantly, talk about their dad. It’s giving them that excuse to talk about him.”
To donate to her latest fundraiser - an abseil down Deal Fire Station - visit her Gofundme page.