A heart-broken mother who suffered a double tragedy when her three-year-old daughter died is dedicating her life to raising money for charity.
On Sunday, July 6, Alex Gentry-Maharaj and her 11-year-old son Luca Maharaj took part in an eight kilometre sponsored walk for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) in memory of Lyra, who died in December aged just three after collapsing seemingly out of the blue.
The family, who live in Hartland Way, Morden, were already mourning the loss of Lyra’s father Andrew Maharaj, who passed away in August 2011 from a brain haemorrhage.
Dr Gentry-Maharaj, who works in cancer research, said she will never give up raising money for charity and has already collected more than £7,000 in the six months since Lyra died.
Speaking of the night their lives changed forever, Dr Gentry- Maharaj, 41, said: "Both Lyra and Luca had been at drama rehearsal at St Mary’s Church in Merton Park.
"She was tired but after three hours of rehearsal I thought it was fine.
"She was quarrelling with me about putting on her jacket and I put them in the car.
"They were really happy - saying ‘I love you’ to each other."
Dr Gentry-Maharaj drove to her sister’s house in Merton Park to begin wrapping presents for Christmas.
They were due to travel to the South Bank by train from Wimbledon afterwards but they never made it.
Seconds after the family got to the house, Lyra collapsed and was rushed to St George’s Hospital by ambulance, but there was nothing they could do.
Dr Gentry-Maharaj said: "She took three steps and fell down.
"I thought she had tripped but she had collapsed.
"They tried to save her but after an hour they turned to me and said they can’t do anything.
"I didn’t accept it.
"She was at drama at 1.15pm but by 1.30pm we called the ambulance.
"She was happy and healthy, with no symptoms."
Dr Gentry-Maharaj said doctors told her it was likely Lyra suffered a fatal arrhythmia, otherwise known as an irregular heart-beat.
She died on December 14 last year. Poplar Primary School in Poplar Road South, Merton Park, where Lyra and her brother attended, dedicated what would have been Lyra’s fourth birthday on March 4 to be Lyra’s day, and raised £858 for CRY and JigSaw4U, a bereavement charity.
They have also held cake sales, non-uniform days and released balloons in the Lyra’s memory.
Friends and family have rallied round, with £5,556 being raised by Rachel King from the London Marathon and the Institute for Women’s Health at University College London, where Dr Gentry-Maharaj, works raising £280.
"I want to say thank you to the community for pulling together.
"This was really heart-warming and I’d like to say thank you to everyone," Dr Gentry-Maharaj added.
To donate to the on-going total, visit the website.