Former athlete and wife of comedian found dead at South Yorkshire home

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Sheffield comedian Bobby Knutt’s wife Donna Hartley has died suddenly at the age of 58.

Once hailed the golden girl of British athletics, Donna, who competed under her maiden name Donna Murray, passed away unexpectedly while sunbathing in her back garden near Sheffield.

It was Bobby, her husband of 26 years, who made the tragic discovery on at their home between Sheffield and Barnsley on Friday.

A post mortem to establish what caused Donna’s death was expected to be carried out today.

During her glittering athletic career Donna won double gold at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada, in the individual 400m and 4x400m relay.

She also won a bronze medal at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow for her part in the 4x400m relay.

She was made an MBE by the Queen in 1979.

Later she became a gym owner and body builder and was crowned the sport’s Miss Great Britain.

Her first marriage was to fellow athlete Bill Hartley.

Donna met Bobby Knutt, famous for his roles in Coronation Street, Last of the Summer Wine and as Emmerdale, at Butlins in 1984.

The couple were wed three years later at Sheffield register office and had their reception at Baldwin’s Omega.

At the time of their silver wedding anniversary in 2011, Bobby told The Star: “She’s the love of my life.

“I’m the luckiest man alive.”

Tributes have been paid to Donna on a Sheffield social networking website.

One user, called Ridgewalk, posted: “I remember her as a young athlete that used to grace our screen a truly beautiful young woman.

“How sad. Condolences to her husband and family.”

Scousemousewroe ote: “What a shock. 
“My deepest sympathy to Bobby and their family and friends.”

While Bypass Blake put: “So sad. Such a lovely lass and great athlete, 58 is no age may she RIP .”