VILLAGERS are hoping to raise hundreds of pounds for a Hampshire hospice in memory of a Netley youth worker who lost a four-year battle with cancer.

Friends and family across Netley Abbey are hoping to collect hundreds of pounds for Sylvia Williams who died from ovarian cancer.

Known throughout the village as “Auntie Sylvia” she worked for 34 years at Netley Pre School at Station Road Recreation Ground which moved to Netley Abbey Infant School where she was the supervisor.

The 67-year-old died of cancer at Countess Mountbatten hospice and her husband Allan said he never realised how much she has been missed by those who knew her.

He said: “In all this time she was an auntie or a granny to everyone in the village no matter what their age. People would go to Sylvia and she would lend them an ear. She would never turn anybody down.

“We didn’t realise just how much she was loved and appreciated by people in Netley and the surrounding area.

“Everybody’s come forward. On a Facebook page someone wrote ‘Netley’s lost a legend’. That sums it up. I know she knew a lot of people but I didn’t know she knew everybody.

“That’s been a real support for the whole family.

“I’m very, very proud of her. The whole family is blown away by the support.”

He added: “We’re full of praise for the hospice staff. We can’t say enough for them, every single one of the hospice staff and volunteers.”

Sylvia from Woolston Road ran several youth clubs in the area too and Natalie Elmore said Sylvia had “an impact on thousands of people’s lives”.

Now Natalie is hoping to raise cash for Countess Mountbatten hospice and Target Ovarian Cancer by placing charity boxes in shops across the village.

Mum-of-three Natalie, 31, said: “I’ve known her since I was seven. There could be three or four generations of people she taught at the preschool.”

After moving to Netley in 1974, Sylvia got involved in a mother and toddler group before she started working at Netley Preschool.

She helped Allan set up a youth club though he said the success was “mainly down to her”.

He said: “Sylvia would organise everything and do anything for anybody but she never wanted to take the praise for it.”In 2001 she was made a Citizen of Honour for Eastleigh Borough Council for her services to the community.

Sylvia’s funeral will be held at Wessex Vale Crematorium in Bubb Lane, West End, on Friday August 19 at 12.15pm.

The family have asked that mourners do not wear black for donations to Countess Mountbatten hospice and to support-charity Target Ovarian Cancer. No flowers please.

Contact the Co-op Funeral Care in Manor Farm Road, Bitterne Park on 023 8067 1990 for further details.