Family and friends have paid tribute to a “determined and strong” Fairstead girl after she, like her sister before her, lost a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis on Saturday night.
Eighteen-year-old Charmaine Black was taken into Papworth Hospital last Wednesday night but quickly deteriorated, leaving her family to come to terms with the loss of two daughters to the condition.
Charmaine’s older sister, 22-year-old Mary, died just over six years ago, leaving behind parents Marie, 49, and John, 62, and 26-year-old brother Scott.
John said: “The difference was at least with Mary we had time to be with her in the final days, but with Charmaine it just happened so quickly that I never got the chance to tell her what she meant to me. It’s still sinking in.”
Throughout her life, much like her older sister, Charmaine remained determined to manage her condition herself, but never let it take over her life.
Marie said: “She took whatever was thrown at her in her stride but she always made sure she was in control of her illness. Charmaine was a fighter, she was very stubborn and determined even in the last days when she was in hospital she would tell the doctors she was going to get better.
“The nurses could never believe that even with all of the medication and IVs she would still go shopping. In the end, even the doctors were shocked at how quick she had gone.”
John said: “She wouldn’t let cystic fibrosis stop her or hold her back. She was always thinking about a happy event coming up, like the party she was planning for her mum’s birthday. I really admired and respected that she never spoke about just now, it was always the future.”
A Gaywood Community School pupil, Charmaine loved being active, playing football and even competed in cross country at The Walks, coming 11th out of the girls.
John said: “I went to watch her run and I was so proud to see her looking so fit and healthy, I can still picture her now.”
She later studied at Springwood High School, but her illness forced her to miss more school and eventually be taught at home and miss her exams.
Her former teachers said: “Charmaine was a true inspiration to her fellow students. She conducted herself in a cheerful and polite manner with a smile never too far away from her face. She was also a determined scholar with the motivation to succeed in life.
“All staff and students who worked with Charmaine are deeply saddened by her passing. Oxburgh, the school House that Charmaine belonged to, paid tribute to her life during their assembly on Thursday.”
Charmaine had started work for Servex, the catering department at Hardwick’s new Tesco store, but within weeks was signed off for illness.
On Wednesday night, Dersingham Football Club, the team Scott plays for, wore black armbands and held a minute’s silence in Charmaine’s memory. The club will also be making a donation to the cystic fibrosis unit.
Scott said: “It was overwhelming. Until something happens, you don’t realise how many friends you have.”
Charmaine’s funeral will be held at St Faith’s Church on May 8 at 1pm, followed by a service at Mintlyn Crematorium. Family flowers only, but donations accepted for the cystic fibrosis unit at Papworth Hospital.