A MUM whose husband died when their daughter was just six months old will be taking on a mountain of a challenge this month as part of a charity she set up in his memory.

Amy Donnelly will walk up Mount Snowdown on September 21 with a team of 16 other trustees and supporters of her charity Guardian Angels, which she launched to support bereaved children who have lost a parent.

The 35-year-old deputy headteacher from Silchester became a widow in 2017 when her police officer husband Gareth died in her arms.

The pair met at Legoland in 2010, and she fell for him instantly, pointing him out to her friend.

They married in 2013 before trying for a baby, which took two years because of Gareth’s previous battle with testicular cancer.

He had also had heart surgery to fix an aortic aneurysm the year before they met.

The couple faced another battle when Amy was pregnant, Gareth learned his heart surgery was failing, and in October 2016 he spent eight hours in surgery having a mechanical valve inserted.

The couple’s daughter Matilda was born in January 2017 and Amy said: “We had our baby and life was perfect.”

Then, on July 9, 2017 Amy’s perfect life was shattered.

Whilst camping with friends in Bath, Gareth coughed up blood and was rushed to hospital where he stayed overnight, with a scan revealing a mass on his chest.

He was discharged the following day and the couple returned home, but Amy had an awful feeling something bad was going to happen, and spent the journey telling her husband how much she loved him.

Within 10 minutes of arriving home, Gareth collapsed and paramedics were unable to save him.

He died aged 37 of an inflammation on his lungs which haemorrhaged, and because he was taking warfarin his blood didn’t clot.

“It was a massive shock,” said Amy, adding: “I remember sitting outside thinking ‘what am I going to do? I have to go home and feed Matilda’. No one I knew had experienced this.”

She added: “The moment Gareth died I felt my whole world came crashing down. My sparkle for life gone, our future demolished and my heart, broken into a million tiny pieces.”

Weeks after Gareth’s death Amy launched a blog on social media, which has been read by people all over the world who are inspired or touched by her words.

Posting on her blog in July 2017, she said: “I just feel empty today, an emptiness because G is never going to open our gate and come into our home again. An emptiness because his soft, northern voice and laughter won’t fill our house again, an emptiness because however much I wish he would get into bed next to me at night for a cuddle, he never will again.”

Amy decided to set up her charity after hearing from other widows who contacted her through her blog, struggling with an added financial pressure of losing a second income when their spouse died.

She said: “My husband was a serving police officer so I get a pension. To have that added pressure on top of grief, people contact me because they have to move out of their home. To lose the main person in your life and then for your child to have to move schools, or their clubs are cancelled because they can’t afford them anymore, but that’s the one thing they need to help them.”

Guardian Angels now supports nearly 100 bereaved children across the UK, including many Hampshire families, funding activities and experiences such as horse-riding and trips to theme parks.

The Mount Snowdon challenge will be for a bereaved child who wanted to climb a mountain, as well as to raise funds for the charity.

Amy is now rebuilding her life without Gareth, but said she is hit by waves of grief, adding: “He’s missed immensely and there are moments when I think he should be here, throwing Matilda up in the air. She won’t know any differently, but I will, thinking about what she’s missing out on. The day he died my whole life plans ended.”

For more information about Guardian Angels, whose trustees are Emily Lucas and Rachel and Stephen Langstaff along with Amy, visit gauk.org.uk.