TRIBUTES have been paid to a Kinver businesswoman who died after choking while out enjoying a meal at a restaurant with a friend.

Vicki Hancox, aged 45, collapsed at Flute Restaurant in Halesowen on Sunday November 16, but failed to recover despite attempts to resuscitate her by three off-duty nurses - and after a week in the critical care unit at Russells Hall Hospital she died in the early hours of last Saturday (November 22).

Her heartbroken sister Annie Ingamells said it was believed she started to choke and suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain - which triggered a cardiac arrest - but she stressed the restaurant was not to blame.

Mrs Ingamells praised the quick actions of the nurses who rushed from their table at the Stourbridge Road eatery to give CPR after she collapsed during her evening out with her friend of 31 years - Steven Parker.

She said the restaurateur and staff had been very shocked as her sister was well-known at the Flute, which serves Indian cuisine, and she also praised the “unbelievable and brilliant” care given by hospital staff.

Miss Hancox, of Hunnington Crescent, Halesowen, had shown no signs of being unwell previously and loved her work.

The former Earls High School student had a high-flying career - managing accounts for major retailers such as Marks and Spencer, Agent Provocateur and Boux Avenue - before starting a successful company manufacturing and selling components for ladies underwear.

And finally 12 months ago - she realised her ambition to open her own exclusive ladies shop The Village Boutique in Kinver High Street, selling glitzy jewellery, shoes and accessories.

Her 46-year-old sister said: "It was her dream to open the shop; it's all she wanted to do.

"We were just setting up a business which we were going to do online and she wanted more boutiques."

She added: "She was a very kind, lovely person; she helped everybody else rather than herself.

“This is a terrible shock. I was called to the restaurant, but I could see she looked lifeless when I arrived.”

Mrs Ingamells said she has already closed her sister's Kinver shop but she plans to continue setting up the online business in her memory.

Miss Hancox's organs and blood were also donated to give others in need of transplant or transfusion the chance of life.

The much-loved businesswoman is survived by her mother Pat Stockton, aged 73, and brother Paul Stockton, aged 50, as well as her sister. Her father Doug Stockton, a former Halesowen councillor, died from a heart attack aged 56.

Her funeral will be held at Halesowen Parish Church of St John the Baptist on Thursday December 11 at 11am and an inquest will take place at a later date.

Donations will go to the British Heart Foundation and the critical care unit at Russells Hall Hospital - and can be made via funeral directors A J Timmins & Son in Halesowen.