Family baffled by death of sporty Sheffield woman Samantha, 40

Phil Rowbotham, of Woodhouse Mill, with a photograph of his late partner Samantha Hargreaves (on the right in the picture).
Phil Rowbotham, of Woodhouse Mill, with a photograph of his late partner Samantha Hargreaves (on the right in the picture).
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A FIT and healthy woman was found dead in bed aged 40 by her partner – leaving her family devastated by their sudden loss.

Samantha Hargreaves died in her sleep at the home she shared with partner Philip Rowbotham, 42, on Hail Mary Drive, Woodhouse Mill, Sheffield.

Philip discovered Samantha’s lifeless body under the duvet in their spare bedroom, when he went to wake her after thinking she was having a lie-in.

He told The Star that sports fanatic Samantha – who played for England’s tenpin bowling team and devoted much of her time to the running of Woodhouse Juniors Football Club – had not visited the doctors in five years and had no known health problems.

Her family have been left baffled by her death, which they believe could have been caused by a previously undetected heart condition, or sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.

Philip, a machinist at engineering firm Bo-Mac, in Wincobank, said he and Samantha had been to a prize-giving evening for Woodhouse Juniors at The Strad, in Stradbroke, the night before her death, arriving back at Hail Mary Drive at around 12.30am.

He said: “She was perfectly OK. There was no sense at all that she had any illness. She was perfectly healthy, there was nothing untoward. We sat and had a drink and then went to bed.”

Samantha then moved into the spare bedroom when Philip began to snore heavily during the night.

Philip said: “I woke up at about 11 o’clock and tried to wake her. There was no response from her so I shouted, ‘Come on, it’s time to get up’. She sometimes liked to stay in bed for an extra hour or so.

“She had still got the cover on her and she had her arm over the pillow. She just looked like she was sleeping, she looked calm.

“I just shook her and gently nudged her and that was it. I spun her over and realised she had gone.”

He said he felt ‘totally and utterly numb’ at the shocking realisation Samantha was dead, and immediately phoned for an ambulance.

Paramedics rushed to the house and pronounced her dead when they arrived.

Popular Samantha, an art room supervisor at Jepson’s number plates in Arbourthorne, helped with fundraising at Woodhouse Juniors, where Philip was a coach. The couple also took young players on an annual holiday.

Her mum Mary, aged 63, and dad Ray, 65, said they were ‘heartbroken’ by her sudden death, with Mary describing Samantha as ‘the life and soul of the party’ and a devoted aunt to her two young nephews Ben, 12, and Alex, nine.

“She made people laugh, she was good fun,” she said.

“I know at the bottom of my heart she enjoyed life to its fullest. But you never expect to bury your own daughter.”

Samantha, who attended Aston Fence Primary School, then Aston Comprehensive, swam for Sheffield and represented Yorkshire and England in tenpin bowling, travelling to Dubai in 1999 for games with the national team.

A post-mortem found no obvious cause of death, and the results of toxicology tests are not expected for six weeks.

An inquest has been opened and adjourned.

Around 200 mourners are expected at Samantha’s funeral, at 2.15pm today at City Road Crematorium, with a wake afterwards at Woodhouse Mill Working Mens’ Club.

By Richard Blackledge