A well-known Rotorua racehorse breeder and trainer has left an indelible mark on the industry which became her "whole life".
Donna Francis Fleming nee Scally, 70, died in a "freak accident" on May 17 after she fell while walking a horse at Rotorua Racecourse, and died at the scene.
She was farewelled at a funeral service at the racecourse on May 21 followed by a private cremation.
Rotorua-born Fleming was the adored wife and "soulmate" of Raymond Fleming, 71, and the couple had been married for 52 years.
Raymond Fleming owns Sherlock Contracting Ltd which is involved with earthworks, landscaping, demolition, recycling and heavy transport.
The Flemings also own a 155ha property at Paradise Valley raising sheep, cows, and breeding and training racehorses, and also on the property is a new landfill site.
The couple were involved in the horseracing industry for most of their lives together and owned 20 racehorses, including one of Donna's favourites, Koolascuz.
Eldest daughter Jacqui Fillmore said her mother's sudden death in a "freak accident" at the racecourse was a devastating blow to the family and her friends.
"My dad's pretty broken. They were soulmates and best friends and because Dad has some health issues she helped care for him ... Our mother died doing what she absolutely loved."
Fillmore said that in an "unbelievable" twist of fate about three weeks before her mother died she had talked to her father about her wishlist for her own funeral service.
"But none of us ever could have imagined she would go before my dad and also not the way she died ... However, Mum certainly made it easier on us in organising the funeral.
"Working with horses was more than just a hobby, it was Mum's whole life."
In fact, it was a horse that first lit the spark between her and her future husband who she met while visiting Newdicks Beach in Maketu as a teenager, she said.
Fillmore said her mother was carrying a surfboard and her Maketu-born father was riding a horse and she asked him for a ride.
Educated at St Michael's and Western Heights High School, after leaving school, Donna worked in a clerical role at IRD and got married at age 18.
At one stage she then managed a Mike Fletcher's diesel mechanics office in Te Ngae Rd, but it was working with horses that became her life's passion.
The couple raised five children - Jacqui, Dhana, Hilary, Michael and Luke.
Fleming was one of 10 children, two of whom are deceased.
She was the daughter of John and the late Judy Scally nee Jenkins, and her 97-year-old father owned the renowned Rotorua business Scally Logging.
Donna is survived by her nine grandchildren and her great-grandson.
Fillmore said throughout her life, her mother had other interests including playing squash, and basketball and was an aerobics instructor at one stage.
"She was the matriarch of our family, she was the boss and it was Mum's way or the highway. Our mother was a strict parent but you always knew where you stood whether it was for doing something good or something bad.
"Our mother always loved and cared for all her family, and she was loved and cherished in return. She is sorely missed by us all.
"Our behalf of Dad and the rest of the family I would like to thank everybody for their help at the house and also for helping to make Mum's farewell service an absolutely amazing send-off, with such a beautiful atmosphere."
The family did not want to specify the exact cause of death.