Mum's heartbreaking tribute to son, 19, who died without warning just weeks before her wedding

Stuart Waters-Manning
-Credit: (Image: Amanda Waters)

A mum has paid tribute to her 19-year-old son after he suddenly died without warning. Stuart Waters-Manning, who was diagnosed with epilepsy and autism, has been described as always having "a smile on his face" by his mum, Amanda Waters, 41.

Stuart, of North Hykeham, was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2018 when he was 13-years-old, and since then he has suffered from some seizures during the night, but these were "very rare" and not a regular thing. Amanda said: "He can usually tell when they are coming on as he gets a taste in his mouth or it's almost like a stroke with his lips shaking."

However, on Wednesday, May 15, Stuart suffered from a seizure that caused his heart to stop. "It's the shock, as whenever it has happened they have been at night time" she said.

Amanda added: "That morning he was absolutely fine. We were sat in the lounge having a chat with him at lunchtime, then he went up to do some revision for an exam he had the next day."

However, the family went upstairs around 5pm and found Stuart, with his death being confirmed by paramedics shortly after at 5:45pm. His mum said: "When he was having his seizure he couldn't come out of it and his heart stopped.

"There was no reason why it came on, or why his heart stopped." Adding: "The sad thing is we fly out in two weeks to get married and he was giving me away, so he has gone in his suit."

After an investigation, Stuart's death was confirmed to have been caused by SUDEP, which is the sudden unexpected death of someone with epilepsy, who was otherwise healthy. According to the charity SUDEP Action, this happens in one in 1,000 people with epilepsy each year.

Amanda explained that despite having lots of appointments for Stuart over the years, they had never been warned about SUDEP and "had never heard of it before." Stating: "It's unbelievable that nobody even let us know about it."

Stuart with his family in Dublin
Stuart with his family in Dublin

She now hopes to raise awareness of the condition and make other families aware. The mum explained that Stuart had had a seizure over the Mother's Day weekend, but before that he hadn't had one in over a year and it was not a regular occurrence.

Stuart's funeral was held on Wednesday, June 26, at All Saints Church in North Hykeham and was attended by around 250 people, which the family believe is the largest attendance for a funeral service at the church. More than £2,000 has been raised from the funeral as well as fundraisers from Stuart's friends at Lincoln College to raise money in his honour for LIVES and Epilepsy Action.

Sports was a major part of Stuart's life, and Amanda shared that he had wanted to work in the industry. She said: "He said he wanted to be a sports teacher or a sports coach, but as he had autism he couldn't deal with the noise of all the young kids but he just really enjoyed playing it."

Stuart was part of the Invictus football team, and he had gone to the championships with them. He also spent a lot of time at the Hyekham Rugby Club with his dad at the Ruston Sports and Social Club, and he was a season ticket holder for Leicester City and would go with his grandparents and uncle.

She described Stuart as being "very sociable." Adding that: "Ruston's was like a second home to him." In his honour, Stuart's family are hoping to organise an annual Stu-cup to raise money for a charity each year in his honour, with the first event hopefully taking place in 2025 for SUDEP Action.

Amanda explained: "We as a family will buy the cup every year and the proceeds will all go to a charity, but we still have to finalise it all." She continued: "Stuart was one of those that could just cheer you up in a second, or annoy you just as quickly.

"There was always a smile on his face. He had a contagious laugh. He had such a lovely personality." Amanda would like to thank Lincoln and County Family Funeral Directors for the support they have provided the family, including help with creating the charity donation pages. She would also like to thank all the family members and friends who came together to create a memory garden for Stuart.

Family and friends came together to plant a memory garden to honour Stuart
Stuart Waters-Manning

Several staff members at Lincoln College have also paid tribute to Stuart, who was a beloved member of the college community. Hannah Mosedale, protective and public services lecturer, said: "Stuart always showed true sportsmanship and was a friend to everyone. He always gave his best and would help anyone out.

"He always had a smile on his face, and nothing was ever too much for him. He embraced his time at college and was committed to achieving and had a positive attitude to all aspects of college life. He will be deeply missed by not only his class and teaching staff, but the whole college community."

David Knowles, curriculum lead in policing and uniformed protective services, said: "Stuart was a delight to teach, always polite and well mannered, never afraid to give anything a try and always smiling. Stuart was a fantastic student learner and is greatly missed by his peers and the teaching team."

He added: "If we had a class full of Stuart's every lesson, every lesson would be great due to willingness, enthusiasm and commitment to his studies and wanting to be best person he could." Stuart has also been described as "such a kind pupil" by Alice Ferrier, a supported education lecturer at the college.

She said: "He was clearly a huge family man and loved sharing photos of his family holidays with staff. He was never afraid to be 100 per cent himself and always knew how to cheer people up.

"He was such a polite and considerate young man who would always take time out of his day to chat to you. His presence is sorely missed by both staff and peers alike.”

Rosie Thomas-Cousins, lecturer in mathematics, added: "Stu was always early to lessons and so happy to be there. Although maths wasn't his favourite subject, he tried his best and was an absolute pleasure to teach.

"He was just himself no matter what other people thought. He was a lovely person and is greatly missed."