“Good night, God bless, sweet dreams” - were the last words Katie McIver’s mum said to her as she kissed her on the cheek before the young woman died in her sleep.
Keen horserider and animal centre volunteer Katie, 24, was fit and healthy when she went to bed after spending a lovely evening with family and friends.
But tragically during the night she died and was discovered in her bed the next morning by her heartbroken mum Jill McIver at their home in Granville Avenue, Hartlepool.
Katie’s little poodle dog Lily, which was found cuddled under Katie’s arm after she had died on Tuesday, July 7, was brought to her funeral.
The funeral to celebrate Katie’s life was held at Stranton Crematorium which was attended by around 100 people, and saw Katie’s circle of equestrian friends bring along their horses as a mark of respect.
Jill, who is married to Katie’s dad Dave, said initially she thought Katie was just asleep as she went and opened the bedroom curtains and beckoned her to get up as they had a busy day ahead.
But after several minutes when she realised Katie was unresponsive she realised that something was seriously wrong.
Jill called for a neighbour who tried to resuscitate Katie as paramedics rushed to the scene - but it was clear that Katie had died.
Samples of her bodily tissues have now been sent off for tests to establish the exact cause of her death, but Jill says initial thoughts from the coroner are that Katie died naturally in her sleep.
Katie’s organs have also been donated to medical research, as Jill says this is what Katie wanted.
Emotional Jill, a mum-of-four, said: “The last words I said to her were ‘good night, God bless, sweet dreams.’
“In the morning I went in and initially thought she was sound asleep, but she just didn’t wake up. I’m just numb.”
She added: “She was fit and healthy and never ailed anything other than a cough or a cold. She was on the go all the time.
“She had everything she wanted and enjoyed life. She was a proper joker, a little tinker, and she had a heart of gold.”
Achiever Katie, who suffered with learning difficulties, attended Springwell School, in Hartlepool, then Abbey Hill School, in Stockton, before studying agriculture at Houghall College, Durham City.
The keen photographer lived life to the full taking part in two Princes Trust schemes, and was also an avid member of Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group.
But her main love was her animals and horseriding, which she had done since she was aged seven, at Southbrooke Farm, in Summerhill Lane, where she kept two horses, Merlin and Jojo.