MY HEART is heavy. A dear friend of mine passed away on Thursday with little warning.

She was taken ill on Sunday and, despite the best efforts of the amazing surgeons, doctors and nurses at Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital, she could not be saved.

Her name was Tracey Allen, she was only just 50 years old and everything feels incredibly unfair right now.

I am devastated for her family who are now left to pick up the pieces after such a shocking turn of events.

Tracey made a big difference to the city you live in and I wanted to share her story with you.

I met her while working at Southern FM in the early Noughties and was immediately drawn to her.

She was kind and compassionate, but also astute and a huge amount of fun. We had some amazing times together with other work buddies, all of us good friends from that point onwards and, no matter the paths our lives have taken since, we remained firm friends.

Tracey was the kind of woman people would gravitate towards – she had that kind of aura.

I still cannot quite believe I am writing about her in the past tense.

She was always interested in what you had to say, offered up words of astounding wisdom when life was tough and made everyone feel important.

When my first marriage broke down, she was a huge support to me, offering an unwavering shoulder to cry on and endless cups of tea – although no builder’s brew for her.

It was Earl Grey or Chai all the way – she was a woman of pure class.

She was also one of the most stylish women on the South Coast, with an enviable wardrobe and an astonishing ability to throw together a look most of us would need an entire team of stylists to work on for weeks. For her it was effortless.

But above all, Tracey was a pioneer for social change and a passionate advocate of local charities working to improve the lives of those who needed it the most. When we first met at the radio station, she was the regional director of Help A Local Child, a charity established to help disadvantaged children in the South East.

I have rarely met someone so committed to their role, as she quietly went about raising more than £1 million during her time in charge of the fund, her success borne out of the fact people believed in her and, consequently, the cause.

She was captivating when in full flow and oozed genuine charisma and charm. Moving on from the radio station she formed part of the original Brighton Marathon team in 2010 and played a large role in the event that now sees more than 12,000 runners participating each year, raising thousands for countless charities.

She then spent some time as communications manager at the London 2012 Olympics before deciding the time was right to set up her own socially conscious communications agency.

This was not a decision she took lightly as she understood the demands of such a challenge, but was determined to put in the work and create a business that could support and give a voice to organisations wanting to make a difference.

Off the back of this she launched The Giving Times four years ago, an online newspaper giving charities a platform from which to shout about their successes and appeal for local backing.

If you are involved in or work for a charity in and around Brighton, you may well have had the good fortune to work with and spend time with Tracey. Not content with her successful yet demanding career filling her time, she also made room for other campaigns and charitable groups as an adviser.

Tracey was part of the team responsible for saving Saltdean Lido from being flattened and found huge joy in seeing it restored to its former glory and being used by families from the local area.

She was also involved in Brighton Fringe as a board member and until fairly recently was the co-director of Radio Reverb, Brighton’s non-profit community radio station.

Her achievements do not stop there either, as she also headed up the Living Wage campaign in Brighton and Hove, encouraging local employers to pledge to pay their staff a fair wage, calculated on the basic cost of living in the UK. To date, 576 businesses have signed up and made the pledge, giving workers in the city a fighting chance of surviving on their pay packets.

Tracey leaves behind her beloved mother and brother, Pauline and Kenton, and his family. While heartbroken, they are determined to carry on Tracey’s legacy and have set up a memorial fund which will be divided up annually to help the charities she so passionately supported.