The Swindon community was rocked this week by the news that former Swindon Town Football Club goalkeeper Carla Heaton had died. 

Now the community is coming together to do what it can to help Carla's family by raising money to pay for the well-loved footballer's funeral. 

On Wednesday, Swindon Town Football Club announced that the 22-year-old, described by friends 'infectious and bubbly girl', had died suddenly.

Swindon Advertiser: Carla Heaton with her colourful hair and goalie gloves Carla Heaton with her colourful hair and goalie gloves (Image: Swindon Town Football Club)

This sparked an outpouring of tributes from her former and current football clubs with the Robins saying she "brought a shining light to the dressing room with her personality and her performances between the sticks were second to none."

Now a friend of Carla's, Sophie Gray, has set up an aptly GoFundMe page called 'Carla's Rainbow' to help support her mother Naomi Lawrence and the rest of the family during this difficult time.

She said: "Carla was an infectious and bubbly girl she always came into a room with sparkles and colour (quite literally sometimes)

"She was a keen footballer and loved her job working with children and through this, she inspired so many and had many, many lovely friends."

Swindon Advertiser: Carla Heaton in action for Swindon Town Football ClubCarla Heaton in action for Swindon Town Football Club (Image: Swindon Town Football Club)

Sophie, who has the blessing of Carla's family for the page, added: "I’m doing this to help relieve some pressure from their shoulders at such a hard time, any help would be appreciated as this is what Carla would have done for many too."

So far the page has received £1320 worth of donations toward its £3000 target.

On the pitch, Carla was hugely popular as evidenced by the strong reaction from the Swindon Town Women's team, where she spent many years, as well as her current club Cirencester and other teams in the league.

The reaction from Cirencester was: "We are all lost for words but what we can say is how much of a beautiful person you was inside and out. We all miss you and thank you for all the memories. RIP our number 1."

Swindon Advertiser: Naomi Lawrence with her late daughter Carla HeatonNaomi Lawrence with her late daughter Carla Heaton (Image: Carla Heaton)

But off the pitch, she was a devoted daughter who, just last year, selflessly embarked on a fundraising effort to help her mother Naomi Lawrence try and raise £3000 for a new wheelchair to help her take up sport again after a functional neurological disorder left her reliant on an unsuitably heavy one.

In October last year, Naomi and Carla spent the day completing lengths of Day House Lane in Swindon in wheelchairs, with Carla using her mother's first-ever wheelchair to take part.

To donate to the GoFundMe and support Carla's family visit here -