A woman who lost her husband at just 49 has launched a new dating app for widowers craving sex with no strings attached.

Nicky Wake, 51, lost her husband, Andy, 57, in April 2020 to Covid - after he was put into a care home in 2017 after a catastrophic brain injury.

Nicky tried dating again six months after becoming a widow, but claims it was like the "Wild West" and says it was hard for people to understand what she was going through.

Lancashire Telegraph: Nicky and Andy Wake with their son Finn

She launched her first app Chapter Two in November 2022 - and already has thousands of widowers looking for a second chance at love.

But Nicky realised many people who had lost their partner weren’t quite ready for a committed ‘chapter two’ relationship, but were still craving physical comfort and human connection so she set up another app, WidowsFire, for casual hook ups.

Nicky, an entrepreneur from Bury, said: "A lot of widows are not ready for their chapter two - they are not ready for a committed relationship.

"But it is a really well-known and documented fact that widow's fire is a thing.

"It's a term commonly used within the widower’s community - and describes the intense, uncontrollable, or all-consuming desire for sex following the bereavement of a partner.

"You lose your life partner - I shared my bed with my husband for 20 years and then all of a sudden he's not there.

"If you have a healthy sex life, that is going to be a gaping void - one of the things about widow's fire is it is finding comfort.

"We all need and crave affection, cuddles and stolen kisses and actually very often widows are not in the right mental space for a committed relationship.

"We want WidowsFire to be a fun and flirty, non-judgemental place for widows and widowers to safely and discreetly satisfy their physical needs with others like them on a no-strings-attached basis.

“I hope it offers a first step for those looking to dip their toes back into the complicated world of dating without fully committing to something they might not yet be ready for."

Nicky and Andy met in 2002 on DatingDirect.com and clicked instantly with each other - marrying two years later in Jamaica in 2004.

They welcomed their son, Finn, now 15, in 2007.

Lancashire Telegraph: Nicky and Andy Wake

Nicky said: "We were living an idyllic happy life - working on award ceremonies all around the world.

"He was a wonderful stay-at-home dad and did all the school walks and all the cooking.

"He looked after me and made sure I could run our business - Don't Panic Events - and everything was absolutely idyllic."

Lancashire Telegraph: Nicky and Andy Wake

In July 2017, Nicky was away for work, but after phoning home realised Andy was being very quiet on the phone and she didn't know what was wrong.

When she returned home, Andy told Nicky that he had been having chest pains but was reluctant to go to the doctors.

Nicky dragged Andy "kicking and screaming" and he was told he had suffered a heart attack.

He was blue-lighted to the hospital for an ECG and was fitted with a stent - Nicky and Andy felt like they had a lucky escape.

Four days later, Andy suffered another heart attack while sleeping and Nicky had to perform CPR for 30 minutes.

Andy suffered a "catastrophic" brain injury because he didn't get enough oxygen to his brain and then required around-the-clock care.

Nicky said: "He couldn't walk, he didn't know who I was, and he didn't know where he was.

"He was hugely distressed and didn't understand why or anything.

"He couldn't vocalise at first.

"Very often he didn't have a clue who I was when I came to visit which is utterly heartbreaking - he wasn't the man I married at that point."

Andy was in a care home for three years.

"Unfortunately, covid took him in 2020 and we lost him at that point," she said.

"Now it was about me trying to rebuild my life.

"I had to build a whole new relationship with Finn and run a business - it was some of the darkest periods of my life.

Lancashire Telegraph: Nicky Wake and son Finn, who is now 17

"When we lost Andy, I did bereavement counselling and got signposted to an amazing charity called Widowed and Young - and I found a whole new network of friends and peer support through that which was incredibly helpful."

Nicky said her new app, WidowsFire, aims to be an "uncomplicated, flirty and fun space" with people who are on the same page and understand what they are experiencing.

She said: "Two consenting adults looking for joy and solace is not a bad thing.

"If we can help people navigate this awful world that none of us wanted to be in that has to be a positive.

"With this app, everyone who is on there understands the playing field and knows why we are there.

"Removing the awkward elephant in the room out of the conversation.

"We will be launching on June 15, 2023, and it will be exactly the same structure as Tinder or Bumble."

Nicky said it is the "weirdest thing in the world" to have a new sexual relationship after the loss of your long-term partner.

She said: "Kissing someone new after 20 years with someone who knows you so intimately is weird.

"In a long-term relationship, you don't need to overthink that stuff but in a new relationship, it can be daunting.

"I think it is really important to recognise that widows have absolutely natural needs and wants who need to feel, happy, loved and attractive.

"Most widows will have been in a very long-term relationship, so this is a big and scary move.

"We are trying to create this safe space to have those conversations, to have some fun, to flirt and find who they are again.

"When you lose your life partner you lose a sense of who you are.

"For 20 years I built up this identity with my family and all of a sudden that was ripped from me.

"After coming to terms with your loss you have to work out what your next steps are and if you are not ready for chapter two then WidowsFire can be a safe space for you to enjoy."