A 'bright and intelligent woman' who 'fought for most of her life' with chronic pain, died of alcohol toxicity, an inquest heard.

Catherine Willoughby, who would use alcohol as a way of blocking out pain, was found dead on January 25, in her bedroom by her parents.

Coroner Richard Taylor told an inquest in Burnley that the 39-year-old - who suffered from the chronic fatigue syndrome, ME, and Fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain all over the body - had sent messages to her friends on the night before her death telling them how much she was looking forward to going out the following evening.

However, she was found dead the next morning, and toxicology reports indicated she had died due to an excess of alcohol.

Speaking at the inquest, Miss Willoughby's father, Robin Willoughby, said that his daughter had suffered from both ME and Fibromyalgia since she was 14.

He said: "I watched her illnesses develop over the years and it just got worse and worse.

"When Catherine was diagnosed, there was not much known about ME and she took a lot of medication for the symptoms.

"She was in constant pain."

It was explained that Miss Willoughby often had trouble sleeping, which made her extremely uncomfortable, and she turned to alcohol for help.

Mr Willoughby continued: "On a bad night there was no way she could get comfortable and it was because of that that she would resort to alcohol.

"It topped up the pain medication.

"She knew, and we knew, that she shouldn't mix alcohol with her medication but when it delivered what she called 'some oblivion', then she would.

"She used alcohol most days and as far as I am concerned the superficial cause of her death was alcohol, but the root cause was her illness."

Mr Willoughby told the inquest that in the days leading up to her death, his daughter had been under immense stress because of a DWP interview that, in his opinion, shouldn't have needed to take place.

Following the interview, he said she'd felt relief, and despite having plenty to look forward to in her life, the stress, accompanied by the relief, played a huge part in how she was feeling.

He said: "She was a bright girl who had two degrees and lived a very full life despite fighting her illness for many years.

"We need ME to be recognised so that more can be done to help those who are suffering."

Mr Taylor recorded a conclusion of misadventure and said Miss Willoughby died at her home in Acresbrook Road, Higham, after ingesting an excess of alcohol.