A FOOTBALL team united to remember a beloved mum who died suddenly last year.

Nicola Rigby, of Princes Road, Ellesmere Port, was 26 when she was found dead at home by her fiancé Mark Wilson in July 2012, only five months after giving birth to her first child, Lily.

A post-mortem examination held in November found Nicola had been unknowingly suffering from a form of diabetes called ketoacidosis (DKA).

The young mum was a keen member of the Vauxhall Motors ladies football team and last week her teammates gathered together to play against Ellesmere Port in a special football match to remember their friend.

Although Vauxhall lost the match, which was held on Lily’s first birthday, team members said the game was played ‘in good spirit’ and was a wonderful tribute to Nicola.

And, after the game, dozens of helium balloons, some of which were donated by Diabetes UK, were released into the skies in her memory.

Steven Head, who manages the Vauxhall team, said: “Vauxhall v Ellesmere Port is a big derby game and they have been rivals for a long time so it was nice to see the teams come together in respect of a fellow footballer and friend.

“I’d like to thank on behalf of the team Ellesmere Port team and managers for everyone’s support.

“I was very proud to be a part of this.”

He added: “After the full-time whistle blew, both teams came on the pitch led by Nicola’s sister Rachel, who released the first balloon, followed by both teams who released theirs, some of which had personal messages attached.”

As well as Diabetes UK, local businesses, including EA Technology, donated more than £100 toward buying the balloons, in Nicola’s favourite colours, with players and family members also giving money to selected charities.

Nicola’s friend and teammate Hayley Presley said: “Nicky was a woman of great kindness and good nature. She was a friend and a player most people dream of meeting at some point in their lives, and luckily a lot of people got the chance to meet and be part of her life.

“There is not a Sunday where we, as a team, do not miss her, and every game we play we play for her.”

Colette Hill, who was one of Nicola’s closest friends, added: “She always had time for others and she would always give 110% for the team and would have been honoured that players from past and present were there to release the balloons for her on Sunday.”