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'Inspirational' Aussie's sudden death overseas leaves community in 'profound shock'

Louise Santos, 54, was travelling with her husband and young son when tragedy struck.

Tributes are flowing for an "incredible and inspiring" Sydney mum who died suddenly while holidaying in France with her partner and young son.

Bondi woman Louise Santos was travelling with her husband Stuart and son when she passed away earlier this week. The 54-year-old's cause of death has not been made public.

News of Ms Santos's death, a former ironwoman and decorated athlete, has left the Bondi community reeling, many of whom remember her "warm heart and incredible popularity".

In the wake of her sudden passing, the Bondi Surf Club — where she had been a member for over two decades — lowered their flag to half mast in tribute to Ms Santos, who had recently become the club's first female life member.

Ms Santos has been remembered as an
Ms Santos has been remembered as an "incredible and inspiring" community member. Source: Facebook.

Sudden death sends shockwaves through Bondi community

"Louise Santos contributed in every area of the club, including administration and nippers," the surf club wrote on Facebook. "But her great love was the board section, with many years as the board captain — always offering to help out with bronze groups coming through."

"The entire club stands in profound shock, grappling with the void left by Louise's passing," Bondi Surf Club president Brent Jackson wrote on Facebook. "Personally, I will deeply miss Louise's straightforward, pragmatic approach, and her resolute "can-do" attitude that inspired us all," he said.

Another of Ms Santos's loved ones described the mum as a someone who "inspires you to make a difference" and "to become a better person".

"She was a friend, an incredible support to us as new parents and one of the best club mates you could ask for," he wrote on Facebook. "Louise was just one of the those special people we were lucky to have in our life. The devastating news has shocked us all.

"To become the first female life member of the oldest surf lifesaving club was one of hers and our proudest moments as club mates.

"As we move forward and come to terms with this terrible news, we will celebrate all what you stood for Louise and for all you have done for those who loved you."

Louise Santos is seen on a rescue board in the surf.
The Bondi surf club member passed away while on a family holiday in France, loved ones have announced. Source: Facebook.

'Warm-hearted and incredibly popular'

The Can Too Foundation, a charity committed to funding cancer research, also remembered Ms Santos for her contributions.

"It is with great sadness that we share the news of Can Too Coach Louise Santos’s sudden passing yesterday while on holiday with her family in France," a post on social media read.

"We were so fortunate to have Louise Santos join our Can Too coaching team for 2022-23 Summer Ocean Swim Program at Bondi Beach.

"Louise was a highly regarded, warm-hearted and incredibly popular coach who brought so much energy and experience to her role."

The tribute continued to explain how Ms Santos courageously "helped nervous Can Too participants overcome their fears in the ocean", coached them to "become confident swimmers" and swam alongside them during their goal events.

"She had such a positive influence on our community and always had time for people, even with her own busy life," the post said. "With heartfelt condolences our thoughts are with her family and friends."

Ms Santos was a decorated athlete who amassed more than 40 medals at Australian and world masters surf lifesaving competitions. In 2005, she became Bondi's first female national gold medallist in the 35-39 years Australian ironwoman and later won four consecutive national titles in open team events.

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