A NURSE has died while diving off the Cayman Islands during a holiday.

Tina Baxter, a matron at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals, passed out during a dive and returned to the surface unconscious off the north west coast of Grand Cayman Island.

Mouth-to-mouth was administered to the 47-year-old, of Primet Heights, Colne, on the boat, and paramedics took Ms Baxter to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Her mother Sylvia Whittaker, who she had been on holiday with, paid tribute to her daughter, describing her as a "wonderful" person who "died doing what she loved most".

Ms Baxter, a former Nelson Grammar student, had 108 dives under her belt since she took up the hobby five years ago.

She was on a two-week cruise when the incident took place last Saturday at 10.40am during an organised dive at West Bay.

Royal Cayman Islands Police said it appeared she had lost consciousness while returning to the surface.

A post mortem examination has taken place, but the results have not yet been revealed.

The police and ferry company is investigating the incident - and Mrs Whittaker said the family was keen for answers.

Ms Baxter's body is due to be flown back to the UK in two weeks. Mrs Whittaker, 68, who was not on the dive, said: "She loved diving.

"She had her open water, dive master and rescue diver certificates so we just don't know what happened.

"She said 'Bye Mum, see you later' and that was the last time I saw her."

Mrs Whittaker had been on a sightseeing trip and was told of the incident by the ship's doctor when she returned.

She said: "I was so shocked."

Ms Baxter, who had recently come out of a long-term relationship, according to her mum, was on the second of three organised diving trips when she died.

Her brother Ian Baxter, a driving and skiing instructor, flew out to help his mum, and they returned to the UK last week.

Mrs Whittaker, whose second husband Colin died three years ago, said: "She was a wonderful daughter and we were close. She was a strong person who was full of life.

"After I lost Colin she was a big support. Without her I don't know what I would have done.

"It will be so difficult not having her around. She loved diving and she died doing what she loved the most."

Ms Baxter started her nursing career at the Airedale General Hospital aged 18 before specialising in psychiatric care.

She began working as a matron for her current employers, the East Lancashire Primary Care Trust, six years ago after completing a masters in nursing at the University of Hull in 1991.

Grand Cayman is one of three islands which make up the Cayman Islands that are situated almost 500 miles south of Miami in the turquoise waters of the western Caribbean.