A gifted Gwent student died suddenly after a short illness.

Ceri-Ann Faulkner, 18, of Markham Road, Oakdale, died on Monday at the University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff.

The talented singer and dancer, who was studying musical theatre at Cross Keys College, was in hospital for tests for a suspected heart problem.

Her family, mum Susan, stepdad David, father Adrian and 16-year-old sister Bethany, are shocked at the sudden death of a fit, healthy girl who dreamed of a life performing in the West End.

Mum Susan Greening, 46, a matron at Holly House nursing home in Fleur-de-Lys, said: "Ceri-Ann was ill for about two months but nobody realised how bad her condition was.

"We thought it was something she would get a handle on. The hospital called me on Monday afternoon to say things had taken a turn for the worse and Bethany and I went straight there.

"But she had already died. I was upset and annoyed that I wasn't there with her."

Ceri-Ann was admitted to Caerphilly Miners Hospital on June 10 with stomach pains, shortness of breath and tiredness. She was moved to the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, the following day. Her condition improved and she was discharged last week.

On Sunday she was re-admitted for further tests and died the following day.

It is thought Ceri-Ann died of primary pulmonary hypertension - raised blood pressure caused by blockage in the lungs and heart. The Gwent coroner is investigating and an inquest will be held.

Mrs Greening paid tribute to her daughter, who also worked as a part-time carer at Holly House.

Mrs Greening said: "She was lovely, a beautiful girl, a model student and a model daughter. The grief we feel is unfathomable. It's just hard to come to terms with the fact that she's not here any more.

"She hasn't just left a chasm in our lives, it's more like the Grand Canyon.

"She was full of life, energetic and lively with a huge circle of friends. She was the confidante of everybody and would lend support to anyone who needed it."

Mrs Greening said Ceri-Ann's death had been particularly hard on her sister, 16-year-old Bethany. "They were close and she's devastated," said Mrs Greening.

"But she has been so strong and mature, working hard to comfort Ceri-Ann's friends."

A committed Christian, Ceri-Ann taught a youth group at the Tabernacle Church in Pontllanfraith, where a special service was held the day after her death.

Ceri-Ann's funeral will be held at the church on Wednesday at 10.30am.

The family say no-one should wear black to the funeral. They are asking for donations in lieu of flowers, which will be given to causes in which Ceri-Ann was interested.