A VILLAGE is in mourning for a musically gifted mother-of-three who died unexpectedly after contracting meningitis.

Rebecca Allison, 47, died suddenly last week [March 21] after contracting the bacterial form usually associated with children.

Her parents Philip and Valerie Martin, who live in Kennington where she grew up, and sister Sarah who is a GP, said they will remember her for her kindness and beautiful singing voice.

Family friend Sylvia Vetta said: "I’m sure Rebecca never thought an unkind thought in all her life. She radiated love, generosity of spirit and fun. She could make us laugh but also touch our hearts with deep musical experiences."

Mrs Allison lived in Marcham with her husband James Allison, 48, and their three grown-up children.

She became sick days before her death but was unaware of the cause.

Mrs Vetta, who lives in Kennington, added: "It was absolutely unexpected. A week before she seemed to be blooming. Everybody is still in shock."

Mrs Allison married her childhood sweetheart after meeting at school. He works in Italy as Ferrari's technical director.

In a post on his wife's Facebook page, Mr Allison wrote: "I have lost a wife of such dazzling splendour that I scarcely dare type lest I fail to do justice to what she meant to me and to my children.

"There are words in our vocabulary we all reach for in times of tragedy; words like cruel, terrible, indescribable, immeasurable, pain, loss, stricken, bereft, numb, torn and broken. All of them are true, all of them describe how we are feeling and yet they are all wholly inadequate to express what it is to lose someone of Rebecca’s quality."

He went on to describe her as "kind to her core, patient and generous spirited" with "a rich and radiant character."

Mrs Vetta, who set up Kennington Amateur Dramatic Society, said Rebecca's singing talent "was obvious" even at the age of just 11.

They worked together for Kennington Overseas Aid which will tribute part of its Spring Gala on May 7 to Mrs Allison, who was the fundraising group's secretary.

Mrs Vetta added: "I can't imagine it without her and yet I know she wouldn't want me to cancel it."

She said Mrs Allison's "beautiful mezzo voice" meant she was a celebrated soloist for Kennington Choir, who became musical director of Musical Youth Company of Oxford despite a diagnosis of tinnitus.

As a child Mrs Allison - then Miss Martin - went to St Swithun's primary school in Kennington then St Helen's school in Abingdon, where she returned to teach music. Most recently she was working voluntarily in a number of roles.

A concert she was due to sing at in Exeter College Chapel on April 17 has been dedicated to her, and will raise money for the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Vinny Smith, chief executive of the foundation, said: “We are so sorry to hear about the death of Rebecca Allison and our thoughts are with her family and friends. Many people believe meningitis only affects babies and students, however these diseases can strike anyone of any age at any time.

"Meningitis can be hard to recognise, as the early symptoms are similar to those of milder illnesses. If anyone has any concerns we urge you to trust your instincts and seek urgent medical advice.”

Anyone who knew and loved Mrs Allison is welcome at St Swithun's Church in Kennington for her funeral, at 2pm on April 5.

The service will be screened at a marquee outside.