A man who was on a video call to his partner when she was killed in a house explosion said he would always remember how she touched so many people’s lives.
Hospice counsellor Hazel Wilcock, 61, died when her home collapsed near Bury, Greater Manchester, on 17 February.
Ms Wilcock was speaking to her partner Tony Dewes at the time of the blast.
“It’s like the bottom falls out of your world,” he told the BBC. “It just hits you like a train. One minute you’re talking, the next minute [she’s] gone.”
The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined.
Mr Dewes, 63, recalled how he was not initially concerned when his screen went blank during their video call that evening, putting it down to broadband issues or a flat battery.
“I’d just connected on the call and she said ‘let me just put the phone on a tripod.’ I’d bought her a little tripod so she didn’t have to hold it at arm’s length,” he explained.
“We’d just got through the niceties really and then the screen just went blank.”
After repeated attempts to contact Ms Wilcock, he received a phone call from one of her friends, informing him about the explosion in Summerseat, which lies just north of Bury.
But the magnitude of what had happened only started to sink in when he received a call from Ms Wilcock’s brother, who said the house had been reduced to a “pile of rubble”.
When he arrived at the scene he recalled how it “was like a disaster zone”, with the fire service, police and paramedics all in attendance.
In the early hours of the following morning, he was informed that a body had been found and he knew instantly that his worst nightmare had come true.
Paying tribute to Ms Wilcock, he said he would always remember her caring nature.
“I can see why she was drawn to counselling – she was just a natural listener, non-judgemental,” he said.
“You could pour your heart out and she wouldn’t judge you for it. She was absolutely inspirational.”
The couple first met in June and quickly started planning their lives together, he said.
“The first time we met up we went for a walk and, as we parted, she said ‘You do realise you are going to fall in love with me don’t you?’ and she was right.
“We were just so right for each other in so many ways.”
A JustGiving page, set up in Ms Wilcock’s memory, has so far raised more than £2,000 for St Ann’s Hospice, which supports people across Greater Manchester.