A water puddle from a hotel’s leaky airconditioner has led to the shock death of a Bradford hospice volunteer who was holidaying in the Caribbean.

Cath Smith, 60, from Tong, slipped and fell on the second day of her sunshine break in the Dominican Republic and needed surgery to fix a broken bone in her arm.

But her daughter, Nicky Lancaster, has told how routine surgery ended in tragedy when her mum, who has twice beaten breast cancer, died on the operating table.

“All we know is that she flatlined. We are still waiting to see reports from over there to find out exactly what happened. It has been a terrible shock to all of us,” said Miss Lancaster who is due to get married in August and whose mum had been planning to join her on her hen party in Benidorm over the weekend.

“Mum loved her sunshine holidays. I feel sad that she didn’t get a chance to enjoy this one because it happened the day after her and her friend arrived,” she added.

Mrs Smith, who had osteoporosis, was in remission from the cancer she had defeated and a couple of months ago had started to volunteer at the Marie Curie Hospice in Maudesley Street, Bradford, working on the reception and helping out with administration.

“Mum loved it there. She felt as though she was giving something back – she might as well have been a full-time worker for all the hours she was happy to put in.

“She twice fought off her own cancer and, although what happened was terrible, we are actually happy that it wasn’t the cancer that got her,” said Miss Lancaster. She described her mum as “everybody’s friend”, a fighter who always put on a brave face in time of illness and difficulty and who doted on her children and grandchildren.

An inquest has opened into Mrs Smith’s death after an autopsy was carried out abroad and a second autopsy back in the UK, but it has been adjourned for more reports.

Her funeral is at St Christopher’s Church, Holme Wood, on Wednesday at 12.40pm followed by cremation at Rawdon Crematorium – a collection in her memory will go to the Marie Curie hospice.

She died on May 22 and her body was flown back to her family a week later. As well as a daughter, she leaves a son Ben, husband Trevor and three grandchildren.