Family remembers Bourne mum Bethan Gaskin who died at Peterborough City Hospital after choking on Jaffa Cakes during an innocent game
A family has been devastated by the loss of a young mum who died when an innocent game went tragically wrong.
Bethan Gaskin was a bright and bubbly girl with the world at her feet.
The 24-year-old was enjoying a girls' night in when she set about playing a game from her student days.
She was trying to see how many Jaffa Cakes she could cram into her mouth at once but in what doctors described as a billion-to-one chance, Bethan choked on the melted chocolate and jelly as she went to spit them out.
Her airways were blocked and she suffered a cardiac arrest.
She died five days later at Peterborough City Hospital.
Her devastated mum Michele, of Betjeman Close, Bourne, was with Bethan at the party on February 22.
She remembers raising her eyebrows when Bethan started the game, thinking ‘how old are you?’ and telling her to spit them out.
Michele said: “She was like a little hamster with her cheeks bulging.
“She danced off to the toilet to get ride of them and it was only a while later we realised she had been gone a long time.”
A friend went to check on Bethan and found her slumped on the floor.
One of the group works as a paramedic and set out to help Bethan straight away.
Firefighters arrived a few minutes later to give first aid before the ambulance crew arrived.
Michele said: "In my heart I knew we had lost her before they put her into the ambulance. Too much time was passing."
Bethan was in hospital for five days before doctors realised the extent of the brain damage.
The family gathered at her bedside to say their goodbyes on February 27.
Michele said: “She looked perfect and so beautiful. It was just like she was sleeping.
“So many people have said they play a similar game with marshmallows. Even my 90-year-old aunt said she does it with Maltesers.
"This just shows how fragile we are.”
The family knew Bethan wanted to be an organ donor but she never offically registered, so just minutes after saying goodbye to their daughter, the family faced two hours of questioning to give their consent.
Her dad Joe said: "It was the hardest thing to have to answer all those questions when we had just said goodbye."
Bethan donated her heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and one of her lungs.
The family are still waiting to hear whether the transplants were successful but hope the recipients will get in touch one day.
Joe added: “At the minute it's too soon, but I think in time it will help us to know that Bethan saved other people.”
Bethan's devastated parents and brother Joseph, 20, then had the daunting task of breaking the news to Bethan's three-year-old daughter Lili.
Michele, 52, said: “I just told her that Mummy was very sick and the doctors couldn’t make her better so she has died and we can’t see her again.
"We talk about Bethan with Lili and she has asked a few times when we are going to mummy’s.”
Joe added: “We just tell her that Mummy is an angel in heaven now.”
Bethan was adopted at six months old. She lived in Stamford until she was four and attended Happy Days Nursery.
Her parents then received a phone call out of the blue to say Bethan's biological mother had given birth to a boy and they were asked to adopt him too.
The family then moved to Bourne and Bethan attended Bourne Westfield Primary School, Robert Manning School and went on to study media make-up at New College Stamford.
She had just moved into her own flat in Brooke Close and was working as a carer at The Cedars but wanted to pursue a career in the beauty industry.
Joe, 57, joked: “There was more make-up in her flat than anything else.”
Bethan enjoyed spending time with her friends and also took part in medieval re-enactments.
She was also looking forward to raising Lili and giving her all the opportunities she enjoyed herself as a child.
Joe added: “Her life was just beginning to look up after a tough time."
A family friend, Julie Loveridge, has set up a fundraising page to help the family give Lili the experiences Bethan wanted for her, including a holiday to Florida.
Michele said: “Lili was her life and she wanted her to experience everything she had done.
“Joseph worshipped his sister when they were younger and now him and Lili are very close.
"Bethan was only 5ft 2 and Joseph is 6ft but she always put him in his place and now Lili does too."
“We were blessed to have her as long as we did."
Bethan's funeral will take place today at Bourne Baptist Church.
A friend who works at the funeral directors has promised to play songs from Bethan's favourite film Mama Mia on her way to the church and music during the service will include Abba, Queen, Green Day and Guns n Roses.
Next weekend Michele and Lili will face their first Mother's Day without Bethan.
Describing her daughter as “not the most organised” Michele was heartbroken to discover a Mother’s Day card while clearing out her daughter’s flat.
She said: “Bethan would normally leave everything until the last minute but my nagging was obviously paying off. I found a card that she had bought for me but not written on.
“It was heartbreaking to find it but I’ll still put it up on Mother’s Day.”
The family hope Bethan's story will serve as a warning to young people playing similar games. They are also keen to highlight the importance of registering as an organ donor and making sure loved ones are aware of your wishes.
Joe, a painter and decorator, added: “We would like to thank our friend and family, the community and all the emergency services for their support.”
Donations for Bethan's Dreams - Lili's Magical Memories can be made at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bethan