The Broadford community is digging deep for the family of a cafe owner who died suddenly in her sleep last month.
Belinda Merton, owner of Sugar n Spice cafe on Broadford’s High Street, died on September 16 at age 43, with the cause of her death still unknown.
She lived in Broadford with her two daughters Brielle, 16, and Monique, 14.
A GoFundMe page, set up by her friends, has raised more than $5000 to go towards Brielle and Monique’s futures.
Ms Merton’s friend Sherrene Martin described her as the ‘sugar’ in Sugar n Spice – hardworking, straightforward, fun-loving, and well-known and loved in Broadford and across the Mitchell Shire.
“[The community was] absolutely devastated, because she’d built up relationships over the past 20 years she been working in pharmacies in the area, so she got to know a lot of her customers,” Ms Martin said.
As funerals are limited to 10 guests under lockdown restrictions, a public guard of honour was organised at the cafe for residents to farewell Ms Merton, where several dozen people joined the procession.
“Normally with processions like that they slow and don’t stop but they actually stopped – because it was such an overwhelming response – and gave everyone some time to say goodbye,” Ms Martin said.
“The cafe was her dream and she did live her dream by having the cafe. Even though COVID hit them hard, she was living her dream so she would’ve been thrilled that her customers all came.”
People also wrote messages on the cafe window and left flowers and notes.
“The community support has been really great and that’s what’s going to get [her family] through,” Ms Martin said.
Sugar n Spice will now close. A garage sale will be organised to sell any furniture and appliances, all the money from which will go to Brielle and Monique.
Donations can be made to the family via the Sugar n Spice Facebook page or at gofund.me/7962d3dd.