TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved and ‘truly inspirational’ York preschool manager who has died unexpectedly aged just 58.

Holgate Preschool manager Debbie Graham died suddenly on Friday, January 26 leaving behind a family and community who adored her.

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Debbie, had worked and been manager at the preschool for almost two decades, starting in 2006 and welcomed hundreds of families from all backgrounds in the community over the years.

York Press: Debbie with daughter, Lydia at the London EyeDebbie with daughter, Lydia at the London Eye (Image: Supplied)

Born and brought up in Malton, she moved to York in 1985 and it was while working at Bootham Grange – formerly The Grange Hotel and now called No.1, that she met her future husband, Martin.

The couple, who live in Holgate, were together for almost 40 years and married for 33. They have two children Lydia, 27, and Alex 23, two grandsons, Austin, three and six-month-old Teddy. Debbie has two sisters Jillian and Bridgette and she was mother-in-law to Michael.

York Press: Debbie with her grandson, TeddyDebbie with her grandson, Teddy (Image: Supplied)

Lydia said: “My mum was the most amazing selfless person, and was the easiest person to be around, she just really cared.

"I’m absolutely devastated and heartbroken to have lost her, but have found comfort in the huge amount of love shared for mum and all that she did for everyone. I just wish she was here to see how amazing everyone thought she was.

"Mum was always happiest surrounded by her family. She enjoyed the simple things in life a cup of tea, slice of cake and a good laugh. She was an amazing cook and loved to spoil us all with lovely home cooked food. You’d always find mum in the kitchen making something delicious and singing along to her favourite music.

"My mum's devotion and commitment to Holgate Preschool really was something else. She always went above and beyond to make sure that both children and parents felt completely comfortable and at ease when leaving their children in preschools care.

"She was a true inspiration and a huge loss to the Holgate and Acomb community."

York Press: Debbie and her husband, Martin, in the Lake DistrictDebbie and her husband, Martin, in the Lake District (Image: Supplied)

Katie Toms a member of staff at the preschool said: “She was a wonderful woman and a fabulous boss. She just cared. You can’t say much more than that. It showed in everything she did for us and the children and families. She’s very missed.”

York Press: Debbie with her beloved dog, OllieDebbie with her beloved dog, Ollie (Image: Supplied)

Parent Jess Cullen said: “Debbie was such a lovely woman, from the very first time I met her for a look around the nursery for my son’s place she had such a loving and warm energy. Always greeted with a smile she will be very missed. Sending love to all Debbie’s friends and family at this very difficult time.”

York Press: Debbie with her son, AlexDebbie with her son, Alex (Image: Supplied)

Grandparent Jayne Lawn said: “I’m so shocked to hear this very sad news. Debbie was just the best. She looked after four of my grandchildren and our Rudi only finished at Holgate at Christmas. They all loved her, everyone did. Our prayers and love are with all the family and everyone at Holgate Pre-school.”

Holgate ward councillor Kallum Taylor said on social media: "I'm completely stunned and absolutely gutted to hear about this.

"Meeting and working with Debbie was only ever a pleasure, even during more difficult or tricky matters. Her passion for supporting so many local children and their families was always at the forefront of her work. She is a huge loss to our community.

"My heart goes out to all of you and especially her loved ones."

Debbie’s funeral will take place on Tuesday, February 27 at 10.20am at York Crematorium.

York Press: Debbie, Alex, Michael, Austin, Lydia and MartinDebbie, Alex, Michael, Austin, Lydia and Martin (Image: Supplied)