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‘We need answers’: Banffshire family’s tragic plea after death of Tara Jugo, 41

The Rothienorman lorry driver was awaiting surgery in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary when she passed away.

Tara Jugo, known for her carefree approach to life.
Tara Jugo, known for her carefree approach to life.

A Cornhill family have paid tribute to their 41-year-old daughter Tara Jugo, who died awaiting life-saving surgery.

The lorry driver and larger-than-life Rothienorman resident suffered a tear in her aeorta and was an in-patient of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary when she suffered a massive stroke in the weekend between one op being postponed and another being rescheduled.

“Tara was someone who lived life without a care in the world, which makes this even harder. She’s such a big loss,” said mum Doreen.

‘Tomboy’ with a passion for life

Tara McRae Jugo was born on November 5 1982 in Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, the first of two girls for Jack and Doreen Jugo, both then bus drivers.

Tara Jugo with her parents and younger sister Haley.

The family, who lived at Hilton near Banff, sent Tara and sister Haley to Whitehills Primary. When they moved to the village of Cornhill, Tara attended Ordiquhill Primary before moving on to Banff Academy.

A “tomboy from birth”, while her sister played with prams and dolls Tara opted for tractors and cars.

“It stayed with her for life,” said mum Doreen.

A life of hard work, outdoors

Tara left school at 16 to pursue two years studying agriculture at Clinterty College.

When she left she took on various jobs, on farms and with landscape developers.

She became part of the labouring team to develop Clovery Woods and the nearby golf course at Fyvie, with owner Alex Rankine.

“Tara did a bit of everything there. Grasscutter, greenkeeper… she just loved being outside,” said Doreen.

Always at home in the outdoors, especially if a vehicle was involved: Tara Jugo.

When the work at the Fyvie burial site was completed she took on the role of door-to-door delivery person for Mitchell’s Dairy before spending the next 17 years with Feedmix.

The Fyvie animal feed business was eventually taken over by Harbro Country Stores. Tara thrived there delivering bulk orders to the farming community, and businesses all over the north of Scotland.

“She could drive anything, and loved the task of jumping off her truck, into a forklift and delivering the goods a’ by herself,” said Doreen.

Finding love

At 18 Tara moved out into her own home in Rothienorman.

Enjoying a full life full of “high octane” sports like stock car, hot saloon and banger racing, four years ago Tara met Mike Groat, a fellow Harbro employee.

Soul mates, Mike gelled with Tara’s zest for life and couldn’t-care-less attitude.

Tara Jugo with her partner Mike Groat.

Together they enjoyed camper van holidays and wild camping on the west coast.

In December, Tara started feeling unwell.

“We first thought it was a chest infection, and it was being treated as such. But as the months went on she told me she felt something much more serious was wrong,” said Doreen.

Life-saving surgery was scheduled

Eventually, Tara’s plight was taken more seriously and on May 10 she was sent for a heart scan at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

It became immediately clear her life was at risk.

“The woman who did the scan right away wheeled her to the coronary care unit,” said Doreen.

“Tara had a massive tear in her aeortic artery.”

Advised that she would require open heart surgery, Tara remained in hospital.

“I don’t know why she didn’t go into theatre that night.

“At that point Tara was in bed, talking, just being monitored, waiting for this life-saving repair.”

‘You need to come to the hospital’

“Monday (May 20) was when they said it would happen,” Doreen added. “But that wasn’t to be.

“On Saturday May 18 she suffered a massive stroke.”

Tara passed away one week later on May 25.

Tara Jugo photo-bombing her mum Doreen and sister Haley.

Her family were called at 3am to say she was unresponsive.

With her parents, sister and Mike by her side, she slipped away.

“The stroke left her paralysed and unable to talk. They did another scan after the stroke and it was clear she was in a bad way.

“Until that happened all we knew was that the tear was life-threatening and the surgery needed to happen.

“We are so lost and confused as to why this happened.

“We want answers.”

Hundreds gathered to say goodbye to Tara

Tara’s death has sent shock-waves through the family – and a community that loved her.

It’s been especially painful for Haley’s 14-year-old son Alfie.

Aunt and nephew: Tara Jugo and her sister’s son Alfie.

“Tara didn’t have children of her own but she was like a second mum to Alfie,” said Doreen. “This doesn’t seem real. Even after a funeral, it’s not hitting home yet that she’s gone forever.”

A celebration of Tara’s life took place “as she would have wanted it” at Buckie Crematorium. on June 5.

More than 300 people gathered – many in classic cars to honour Tara’s love for vintage vehicles.

One last journey for car-lover Tara

Knowing how serious her impending surgery was, she expressed one final wish to her little sister.

“All she wanted was to go to her funeral in her own car. Thanks to Harbro, who fabricated Tara’s car, Haley was able to drive her to the crem herself.

“It was lovely to think she made that one final journey in her own Vauxhall Viva Estate. She was Vauxhall daft.”

A young Tara, who always loved cars.

But as nice as her “farewell” was, her family now say they want an investigation into why her operation did not happen sooner.

An NHS Grampian spokesman said: “We send our condolences to all of Tara’s family and friends at this very difficult time.

“We cannot comment on an individual’s care or treatment.

“However, we would encourage the family, when they are ready, to contact our Feedback team if they wish to discuss this further.”