THE GRIEVING family of a woman whose body was found in a Hampshire river after she went missing have paid tribute to her selflessness and determination to make the most of life.

Police last night named Deborah Milliken as the woman whose body was discovered in the River Test, 12 days after her wheelchair was found by the water’s edge.

Her devastated family paid tribute to the independent 52-year-old, who despite suffering from multiple sclerosis for 25 years, worked tirelessly to help others as well as enjoying many adventures of her own.

In a statement, her family said: “With her outgoing personality which made an immediate impression and led to many life-long friendships, Deb led a life filled with many pursuits and interests, achieving much for herself and doing much for others.

“Though she lived with multiple sclerosis for some 25 years, Deb was independent and determined, travelling widely, notably going on a rafting expedition on the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon, making a sailing voyage on the Lord Nelson, and doing a free fall parachute jump.

“She was actively associated with several MS societies and had taught students with learning difficulties for several years in Winchester. Deb’s family treasures their memories and asks not to be disturbed at this difficult time.”

As previously reported, her disappearance sparked a major police search which saw specialist units from Hampshire Constabulary trawl the river after she was last seen by the river bank, where her empty wheelchair was discovered on October 21.

Her body was found last Saturday, near Lee Park Farm, Romsey, nearly two miles from the spot where she was last seen, by a worker on the nearby Broadlands Estate.

Deborah, who lived in Latham Road, spent more than 20 years helping other MS suffers and her efforts were recognised by the Multiple Sclerosis Society in 2006 when she was presented with the charity’s top award, the Shining Star Award.

She joined the charity’s Winchester branch when she was diagnosed with the condition and took part in a skydive which raised £3,300 for research into the condition.

In her commendation, she was described as “greatly-respected” and someone whose humour, advice and sympathetic approach benefited many people.

At the time of receiving the award Deborah said: “I hadn’t anticipated it at all. It is nice to be recognised and rewarded, although I never did my volunteering work for that reason.”