Husband pays emotional tribute to ‘inspirational’ wife and talented Portsmouth swimmer who has died from bowel cancer

Craig and Cheryl Hawley
Craig and Cheryl Hawley

CHERYL Hawley was an inspirational ‘rock’ to her family and a woman who would do anything for those she loved.

The 49-year-old talented swimming enthusiast who lived in Purbrook, died shortly after her birthday earlier this month at Rowans Hospice. She leaves behind her husband Craig and their two children Jessica, 22, and Cameron, 18.

Now her husband Craig wants to hear from her friends to record and immortalise their memories of her.

Cheryl, nee Horton, fought a brave battle with bowel cancer after being diagnosed at the start of 2018.

Growing up in Southsea she went to St Edmund’s School and then Portsmouth Sixth Form College and swam for Portsmouth Northsea and Portsmouth Victoria swimming clubs.

Her passion and talent for swimming was reflected in the achievements she recorded during involvement in the sport for much of her life. During her peak years of swimming she swam for southern counties where she won a number of medals.

Craig said: ‘Cheryl was a very good swimmer who won a lot of medals during her time. She loved being in the pool and competed in a number of competitions including the Hampshire Championship, South Coast Championships and The Hampshire and Isle of Wight games.

‘She went on to help run galas at Havant and Waterlooville Swimming Club and was also a coach.’

Cheryl worked as an administrator for companies in the area including Vorwerk, and Inchcape Lease Line before her final post at cable firm BETS Cable Components when she became a full-time mum after the birth of the couple’s second child.

Craig explained that family was everything to ‘kind-hearted’ Cheryl – with her dedicating her life to bringing up her children and supporting them in all their activities and at school.

An ‘inspiring’ selfless role model, Cheryl also organised various swimming meets and was a church treasurer.

Cheryl and Craig were married for 27 years after marrying in 1992 – having first met in 1989 through swimming.

Craig said: ‘We met at Portsmouth Victoria Swimming Club. I would swim in the slow lane and she was in the fast lane but after I improved and made it into the fast lane I got to know her. She was falling out of love with competition at the time that I was getting into it.

‘Her love for swimming was shown by her sneaking into school late at St Edmund’s where she would have to be let in through the gate – which was shut – by one of the sixth form members.’

Speaking of his abiding memory of Cheryl, he said: ‘She was a loving and caring mum who wanted the best for her children and was someone who showed great strength right until the end. The nurse said she couldn’t believe how strong she was.’

Cheryl’s funeral will take place at Oakes Crematorium in Havant on Monday at 4.45pm.

Craig is keen to contact people who knew Cheryl to get their memories of her – whether friends from her swimming clubs or school and work. Some of those he wants to connect with include Michael Wakefield (Fareham), Mark and Paul Webb (Waterlooville), Kevin Warren (Havant), Fleur Dobin (Southsea) and people who worked with Cheryl in Inchcape Leaseline just before they got married. Contact Craig at craig_hawley@sky.com