It was with deep sadness that we received the news of the unexpected death of our Special Olympics GB Badminton player Bianca Atherton, at age 27.

Bianca was one of the 49 athletes selected to represent Great Britain at the 2014 Special Olympics European Summer Games in Antwerp this September.

Bianca joined Special Olympics in 2010 and trained every week at the ‘Bolton Lads & Girls Club’. She competed regularly since then at the 4 Nations Para-badminton Series events around the UK, as well as at the 2013 Special Olympics GB National Summer Games in Bath, where she won a silver and a bronze medal.

David Gillespie, Badminton Head Coach, said: “Bianca will be remembered and truly missed by her coaches, team mates and those that had the opportunity to meet her through her favourite sport and Special Olympics. She was a dedicated, enthusiastic and eloquent athlete, who trained regularly, always enjoyed playing Badminton and was looking forward to competing at the 2014 European Summer Games.”

The funeral will be held on Thursday 1 May, 11 am at West Chapel, Overdale Crematorium. Overdale Drive, Bolton, BL1 5BU.

The family have asked for no flowers, but donations to Special Olympics GB instead. Our deepest sympathy and condolences go to Bianca's family and friends.