FAMILY and friends of a key member of Marlborough Town’s ladies football team Abbii Demir have been shocked and saddened at her death aged just 21.

University student Abbii, who is a former pupil of St John’s School and New College, Swindon, died just days before Christmas after being taken ill at her home in Derby.

On Thursday evening friends and family fathered at Marlborough Town’s ground in Elcot Lane to release more than 100 pink balloons in her memory.

Among those who joined in the gathering was her mum Alex. She said: “It was a lovely thing for them to do.

“It made me feel close to Abbii. She was a wonderful daughter. Always helpful and bubbly.”

She said her daughter had been born with a hole in the heart but that had been treated when she was young.

But she had continued to suffer with problems with her heart valves. She said: “She never let her health stand in her way. She loved her football and also went to the gym a lot.”

Abbii’s close friend Jess Sharland, who met her when they both studied at New College, organised the balloon tribute.

She said: “There were more than 100 people there. We all formed a big circle and then myself and couple of others went into the middle and released the balloons. A few candles were also lit.

“I got pink candles as I knew that is what Abbii would have liked. She was a fantastic friend. Her death has been a huge shock.”

Abbi’s former football team manager and friend Simon Brooks said: “Last season was her last with the club before she moved up to Derby.

“I played her as a holding midfielder as I spotted she could read the game so well and showed experience we’ll beyond her years.

“She was a big voice in the changing room and would have every player’s back. At my speech a the presentation evening I touted her as a future captain of the team and I stand by that.

“I gave her managers player’s last season for her performances throughout the season. She would light up a dark room and was a character on and off the pitch, she also enjoyed speedway and was a recent spectator of the team in Swindon.”

Abbii’s funeral, organised by Daniel Claridge, will be held at West Overton parish church at a date to be set. Abbii also leaves her father Kemal, two brothers and four sisters. Abbii was the second youngest of the family.

After leaving New College she started studying at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham. She had recently moved to live in Derby with friends.

Her mother said the family were given the shock news of Abbii’s death on December 22 by police.