Tragedy as exchange student dies in Stevenage

Toni Lee Hayward was due to appear in Hitchin for a speech but was taken to Lister Hospital where sh

Toni Lee Hayward was due to appear in Hitchin for a speech but was taken to Lister Hospital where she later died - Credit: Archant

A VISITING exchange student has died after suffering a sudden brain haemorrhage.

Mum-of-two Toni Lee Hayward, 38, had flown in from New Zealand and had been due to give a presentation in Hitchin as part of an exchange between Rotary District 1260 - covering Herts, Beds and Bucks - and Rotary District 9920 in New Zealand, but fell into a coma and was rushed to Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

Her family were unable to reach the UK before her life support was turned off.

A spokesman for the family said: “A lot of people are hurting. She was a very special, generous and loving person. She always put herself forward to help others. I can’t describe what a magnificent human being she was.”

Ms Hayward had come to Hitchin as part of a group study exchange set up by the Herts, Beds and Bucks rotary club.

Debbie Hodge, rotary’s district governor, said: “Toni was a shining example of all that is good about the Group Study Exchange programme: taking opportunities, pushing boundaries, experiencing other cultures, meeting new people and creating life-long bonds of love and friendship.

We hold Toni and her family in our prayers and thoughts.”

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Ms Hayward was widely recognised in her home community for her involvement in adult literacy programmes.

Her funeral took place last week in Rotorua, New Zealand, with several hundred mourners in attendance.

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