Hayling Island cancer sufferer determined to go on dream holiday died after contracting sepsis, inquest hears

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A cancer sufferer from Hayling Island, who declared 'nothing is going to stop me from going on holiday' died in her luxury cruise ship cabin after falling over and contracting sepsis, an inquest heard.

Lucille Thorne, 68, set sail on the trip of a lifetime while she battled stage four breast cancer, a coroner was told. Days before embarking she had injured her knee when she slipped on the marble floor at a resort in the Maldives, where she had started her dream holiday. Unbeknown to Ms Thorne at the time, she contracted sepsis and died four days into the cruise to Singapore on the Azamara Quest Ship.

Childhood friend Ann Thomas, who was on the holiday with her, told the inquest Ms Thorne, from Hayling Island, Hants, was 'courageous' and was determined not to complain about any pain she felt.

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The inquest today at Portsmouth Coroners Court heard that on November 18, 2022, Ms Thorne flew from Gatwick Airport in West Sussex to Malé in the Maldives. Ms Thomas said: "She really wanted to go on holiday and she had done all the research."

One family member said when they raised concerns about going away due to her cancer, Ms Thorne said 'nothing is going to stop me from going on holiday'.

Lucille Thorne's death was ruled as accidental by a coroner after contracting sepsis following a fall on holidayLucille Thorne's death was ruled as accidental by a coroner after contracting sepsis following a fall on holiday
Lucille Thorne's death was ruled as accidental by a coroner after contracting sepsis following a fall on holiday | Solent News

On November 20 - on the pair's first full day at the unnamed resort in the Maldives - Ms Thorne fell. Ms Thomas said: "We had been out sunning and we went in to make some coffee and it was when we were doing that Lucy slipped on the floor. Her feet went out from underneath her, it was her right side that she had fallen on.

"She didn't want me to phone reception and get the doctor but because of her situation I thought it was best to." Ms Thomas said she phoned reception to get help for her 'shocked' friend and said a nurse and doctor attended before prescribing her antibiotics.

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Ms Thomas said: "[Her knee] looked very red and raw. It just didn't look right, it was starting to get blisters down to the ankle." Ms Thomas said the blisters were 'big' and 'sore'. The nurse then burst the blisters and prescribed Ms Thorn antiseptic cream to rub on her knee.

Ms Thomas said her friend was 'uncomfortable' but was not the type to complain or talk about pain. The pair flew to Dubai days later and stayed in a hotel for a night before boarding the Azamara Quest Ship.

The cruise company promises 'everything modern voyagers are looking for'. Passengers can pay up to £6,000 to enjoy a holiday with the cruise company. Ms Thomas said: "She had been on an Azamara cruise before so - from what I gather - she enjoyed that so I think the cruise was probably something she was looking forward to. The Maldives was a nice bolt-on for us to start with."

While they were on the cruise, Ms Thorne started to walk slower. Ms Thomas, also from Hayling Island, said: "Every day we were away I was worried about her. I knew what I was taking on but I was worried. Firstly it was in relation to the knee with the blisters then really, how much she slowed down when we got to the ship.

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"She never complained. When I say she was courageous... I would say 'Are you okay?', and she would say 'Yes, yes, I am fine'. She didn't moan about pain. She never did complain about anything to do with her health at all. [She was] very very stoic, a courageous lady."

After a few days of reading, listening to music, and laying on the cruises deck, Ms Thomas woke up at 4am on December 3 to find her friend unresponsive. Ms Thomas said: "I got up to go to the toilet and I touched her and she was cold and I went straight to the phone and rang 911."

The inquest heard that at the time the ship was in the sea off Sri Lanka. After emergency services attended Ms Thorne was pronounced dead at around 4:30am.

Henry Charles, assistant coroner for Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton, said Ms Thorne's cause of death was 'accidental' and brought on by the fall which caused sepsis. He told the inquest, which was attended by her family and friends, that Ms Thorne was 'not a frail' lady but had suffered from poor health.

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Mr Charles said she was 'determined' to go out and enjoy the 'amazing' holiday with her friend. Describing the two women embarking the ship, he said while the 'knee was still weeping' - they were able to 'spend a relaxing four days outside on the sun deck'.

"On the third of December at about half past four, Ann got up to find Lucy had passed away. She, in response, called 911. The medic team arrived and did what they could but it wasn't successful."

Mr Charles said there was a 'clear level of deterioration' after Ms Thorne fell on November 29. He added: "In light of my findings, my conclusion is one of an accidental death." He described her as a 'pretty amazing person' which was echoed by her family and friends in room.

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