Pictured: British holidaymaker, 64, who collapsed and died on the beach in front of her partner after going for a swim in ‘rough and cold’ sea in Sicily

  • Deborah Hooper is thought to have suffered a cardiac arrest Friday, October 14
  • She was on holiday in Punta Secca, near Ragusa on the Italian island of Sicily
  • Italian police say she went into ‘rough and cold’ sea before being pulled out

This is the British woman who collapsed and died in front of her partner after going for a swim while on a Mediterranean holiday.

Deborah Hooper was with retired accountant Andrew Ashman, 72, when she is thought to have suffered a cardiac arrest in rough seas.

The pair were walking along a beach at Punta Secca near Ragusa on the Italian island of Sicily when tragedy struck last Friday.

Italian police say they believe she had ‘some sort of medical episode’ while swimming in the water. 

The 64-year-old was pulled from the water by passersby and despite the best efforts of medics she could not be saved.

Deborah, who was from Salisbury, Wiltshire, was a took an active interest in cathedral music and edited the magazine Cathedral Voices until she retired last year but still worked as a sub editor and proof reader.

One of her last articles in January year was a piece on Dr Richard Seal, organist and choirmaster at Salisbury Cathedral who died in July.

In a statement to MailOnline Canon Edward Probert, Cannon Chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral, who had known Deborah for 18 years both through her involvement in cathedral music and as a member of Salisbury Cathedral’s volunteer group paid tribute to her.

Deborah Hooper 64 died on Friday, October 14, after suffering what is thought to be a cardiac arrest

The British tourist was on holiday in Punta Secca, a fishing village in southern Sicily (file image), when she became ill and died

He said: ‘It is devastating to lose such a valued member of our cathedral community. Deborah loved cathedral music and her children sang in our choir.

‘Later, she became a steward at our services. She was thoughtful, witty, and a good friend. She will be sorely missed.’

Italian Carabinieri Police told MailOnline Deborah had gone for a swim despite the water being ‘rough and cold’ and in an area where there is no lifeguard on duty during the off season.

The beach is in fact famous for being the seaside home of popular Italian TV detective Inspector Montalbano which is screened on BBC TV and features in the opening credits.

Carabinieri police spokesperson Lt Col Giovanni Palatini told MailOnline: ‘The British lady went into the sea which at the time was rough and cold and we believe she had some form of medical episode.

‘Her partner saw she was in trouble as did two other people on the beach but because the sea was rough they couldn’t go in and had to wait until she got closer to the shore.

‘They pulled her out and tried to revive her with the help of paramedics who were called to the scene but there was nothing that could be done to save her.’

Mr Ashman is from Hampstead, north west London, and after retiring he turned to painting and also appeared on a BBC show called Make Me A Dealer about the antiques trade.

Officials said a local prosecutor and coroner had signed paperwork allowing her to body to be repatriated to Britain and this was expected to happen later this week.

Hooper decided to go for a swim in the rough and cold sea near Punta Secca but she quickly felt unwell, reports local media

The woman’s death comes after a 62-year-old British man died while on holiday with his wife on the Greek island of Crete.

The man, who has not been named, walked towards the sea but he began feeling unwell and returned to his sunbed next to his wife on the beach of Stalida.

But as he laid down on the sunbed, he died.

An ambulance was called and the man was pronounced dead at the scene, local media report. An autopsy is expected to reveal the cause of death.

Last month, a 74-year-old British woman also drowned during a holiday in Crete, with her body being found washed up on a beach on the Greek island on October 5.

CPR was carried out on the woman by rescuers for 30 minutes, but she did not respond. She was rushed to a local hospital – General Hospital St. George – but was pronounced dead.

Last month, a British woman, 45, died after feeling unwell when she swam in the sea in Albufeira, Portugal.

The woman collapsed on the beach and medics tried to revive her – but she died on the shoreline.

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