THE sudden and unexpected illness which led to the death of a much-loved history teacher left a gaping hole in the lives of those who knew her best.

Eleanor Murphy was 34 when she died, just 12 weeks after she had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumour.

She was mother to two-year-old Zac, and became ill while with friends on a hen party.

Since her death family and friends have rallied together and, in the last three years, have raised almost £40,000 for charities close to her heart.

The most recent, last week, was a sponsored walk, from Lodore Falls, near Keswick, in the Lake District, where she married Andrew, in 2010, to Sacriston, in County Durham.

Her widower was joined by three friends, Reuben Horner, Matty Winn and Tony Claughan on the 90 mile journey over four days, with his cousin Thomas Morson in a support vehicle.

What makes the achievement more impressive is Mr Murphy, who lives in Witton Gilbert, suffered a stroke himself in March.

The 39-year-old metal worker said: “I couldn’t walk when it happened.

“It was not a bad stroke, but I lay in bed for four days with it. I thought it was bad case of vertigo. I lost my balance and was holding on to the fence as I took Zac to school. Everything was spinning.”

The sponsored walk, which ended on Saturday, has raised about £6,500 for Forever Eleanor, the charitable cause set up to raise money for organisations dear to her, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Macmillan Cancer Support and Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Newcastle.

Mrs Murphy, who taught at Southmoor Academy in Sunderland, was a keen traveller who loved to visit historical sites around the world.

She became ill while with friends in York early in 2015, and went to hospital where doctors found she had a growth on her brain.

A biopsy at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle revealed she had a grade four brain tumour and required urgent treatment to remove it, but it grew back and she underwent both radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

When she died doctors found another tumour in the centre of her head.

Mr Murphy said: “She did not have much of a chance to be honest.

“It has been devastating from the start. We were initially told she would have two to three years. It was a case where she never had a break. She was really, really ill. We took her into hospital on the Friday night and she died on the Sunday.

“It has affected us really badly. Zac was only two. With her being such a young, fit girl, it has been such a shock for everyone.

“You never think it will happen to you.”

Family and friends have held charity nights, sponsored walks, marathons and took part in the Great North Run in Mrs Murphy’s memory, raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity in the process.

Now they are hoping to do something every year in her memory with talk of a community fun day to bring people in the area together.

Mr Murphy said: “Events like this are raising money for charities, which she would be happy about, and they are keeping her memory alive.”