The devastated husband of a beloved school counselor who died suddenly last week at the age of 36 has spoken of his heartbreak at losing the love of his life.

Hundreds of tributes have been paid to a kind and caring woman who friends and family say touched the lives of everyone she met.

Karen Doran, a mother of two, died at the Cayman Islands Hospital on Oct. 12 after being rushed to the accident and emergency unit with breathing difficulties. She died after suffering complications caused by a blood clot.

Since then hundreds of tributes have been paid to a “kind and caring” woman who friends and family say touched the lives of everyone she met.

Children at Cayman Prep school, where she worked as a counselor, covered her office in heart-shaped cards, while volunteers flying supplies to hurricane-stricken Haiti dedicated the relief flight to her memory.

Her husband Will Doran, one of the founders of the Cayman Music Collective and a former teacher at various island schools, said he was still in shock.

He said his wife had come down with what they thought was a routine bug on Monday last week, but her condition rapidly worsened and he took her to hospital early Wednesday morning.

“I went from walking into the hospital with my wife to, four hours later, facing a lifetime without her and bringing up our two kids on my own.”

The couple has two children, Caitlin, 9, and Jacob, 7.

Students at Cayman Prep primary school have covered Karen Doran's office in heart-shaped cards. - PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER
Students at Cayman Prep primary school have covered Karen Doran’s office in heart-shaped cards. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

“The children are old enough to understand that she is not coming back. They are heartbroken, we are all heartbroken. I have lost my best friend and the one person I want to spend my life with.

“She was just a gorgeous person, lovely and kind. She was a fantastic mother and the perfect wife.”

Mr. Doran said the couple met at university in London in 2000. For both, it was love at first sight.

“I asked her to marry me after about 20 hours. It’s hard to explain. I just knew,” he said.

They married in 2003 and lived in Liverpool, working together to help set up a school in Zambia before moving to the Cayman Islands, initially to work at St. Ignatius school in 2010.

“From the moment she came here, she said she felt like this was her home. She loved the culture and the community, she was involved with everything. Cayman kindness was a reality for Karen and through her it became a reality for me.”

Through her work as a school counselor, he said, his wife was constantly encouraging the children to get involved in charities, most recently for Hannah’s Heroes and the Humane Society.

Will and Karen Doran at a recent event.
Will and Karen Doran at a recent event.

He said his wife was a thoughtful and spiritual person who had lived by the maxim, “Love God above all things and treat your neighbor as yourself.”

One of the last things she did before she died was to donate food and supplies to the Haiti aid campaign.

“I remember being annoyed on Monday when I was looking for a Chef Boyardee lasagna and I realized she had cleared the cupboards and sent everything to Haiti,” he joked.

“That’s the sort of person she was. She was always dropping stuff off at the Red Cross or getting involved in a charity fundraiser.”

He said her most recent project had been planning a pirate-themed party at their home in George Town for his 40th birthday next month.

The couple are well known around Cayman, partly because of Mr. Doran’s work with the Cayman Music Collective, an organization he set up with Badir Awe to promote and celebrate local musicians and create opportunities for them to play live.

“I feel like a lot of people have got my back,” he said. “The music community has been lovely. I have a group of about 15 friends on Whatsapp who have just taken over my life for me.

“Right now, I’m in despair and I am being carried through by the goodness of the people around me.”

Trish Taylor, principal of the primary school at Cayman Prep where Mrs. Doran worked since 2012, said the school had lost a caring, loving, humble and kind professional, who was loved by students and staff alike.

“Although there is great sadness and sorrow at her loss, the outpouring of heartfelt messages and support from the students, staff and parents and the local community show the joy and love that she brought to all our lives, and we are truly grateful for the time that we had her here as school counselor, colleague, friend and parent,” she said.

Ms. Taylor said Mrs. Doran had led the primary school student council and had been instrumental in getting the students involved in raising money for various charities. The school will present a check in her honor at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ annual telethon on Friday.

Mr. Doran said he was humbled by the love and support shown to his family by their friends and the wider Cayman community. He said the support of Andrew and Danielle Morrison, Justin and Leona Okali, Kunal and Alpa Juneja, Josh and Belle Rice, Miriam Foster, the Cayman Music Collective and Badir Awe, Randy and Charlene Merren, Jason Howard, Ormond Williams, Debra McLaughlin, Trish Taylor and John Lawless was helping him through.

“So many people have done so many kind things for us and I want to thank everyone who has been there for us, particularly Charlene Merren. At the worst time in my life, she was there holding my hand.”

A funeral service will take place at the First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman at 4:30 p.m. Friday. All are welcome and there will be an opportunity to make donations to the Haiti relief fund.

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