Tributes have been paid following the death of a member of staff at the National Memorial Arboretum.
Sarah Oakden was taking part in a charity swim in aid of Diabetes UK last week when she suffered a brain haemorrhage.
An online statement on the arboretum website paid tribute to Sarah, who had been head of marketing at the Alrewas site for seven years.
“The arboretum team is a rather small community who very effectively run an internationally important site that has huge significance for many individuals.
“Last week we lost a big part of our community.
“Sarah Oakden’s tragic death, far too young, leaves a massive hole, and our thoughts are with her husband John and daughter Molly.
“If you left a message on social media asking if dogs can come on site, or how to order tickets for a future event, it’s likely as not that Sarah answered your question within a few moments of you posting it.
“While that attention to visitors, night and day, is vitally important, there are so many other reasons that Sarah both enriched our lives and played a significant role in the development of the arboretum.
“The arboretum’s brand and communications professionalism are down to Sarah and the team she pulled together and nurtured.
“Doing huge amounts with not a lot takes some skill, determination, and great powers of persuasion.
“She embodied everything someone working in a charity and a leading visitor attraction should aspire to be.
“Many of the events you may have enjoyed were her brainchild. She was instrumental in driving forward activities, particularly for families and young people, that have allowed many thousands of people to learn something new about Remembrance, and why it is important that we do not forget.”National Memorial Arboretum spokesperson
Members of the National Memorial Arboretum team have laid flowers at the Gift of Life sculpture in memory of Sarah.
“Everything we do at the arboretum is about people – people who come to us for a myriad of different reasons. It is both an honour and a privilege to play a small role in a place that means so much to hundreds of thousands of people, and that helps people through some of the most difficult and dark times in their lives.
“Most of all, for us, it is an honour and a privilege to work alongside people who care about that journey.
“Through her beautiful words and powerful storytelling, Sarah Oakden gave that journey – through grief, through struggle, and through the hardest times – incredible power and dignity.
“The legacy she leaves is not only her unwavering dedication to the arboretum’s brand and reputation, but also her humanity, kindness, and selflessness.
“To use the words she often wrote, we will not only commemorate her life lost, but celebrate her life lived.
“We love you Sarah and our lives are diminished without you.”National Memorial Arboretum spokesperson
A fundraising appeal in aid of the National Memorial Arboretum has been launched by Sarah’s family in her memory. People can donate online.