Colleagues of long-serving Thomas Cook agent Susan Cooper have paid tribute to their “good friend” after her sudden death on holiday in Egypt last week.

Susan, who worked at the company’s Burnley store, had been with the company for 16 years. She died just hours after her husband John passed away last Tuesday in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada while on a Thomas Cook holiday.

Details surrounding their deaths remain unclear and an investigation is under way.

Colleagues at the Burnley store said she was upbeat and fun and would be sorely missed. The branch closed last Thursday for five days as a mark of respect.

In a statement, they said: “Susan was the life and soul of our store.

She always had a smile on her face and made us and our customers laugh every day. Susan was not just our colleague, but also our good friend and we will miss her dearly.

“We are so grateful for all the messages we’ve received from customers and businesses in the local area, as well as our colleagues across the business.”

Cook’s UK chief, Ingo Burmester, said: “We are deeply saddened by the deaths of two of our customers while on holiday in Hurghada in Egypt, one of whom was a loyal and long-serving member of our Thomas Cook family.”

Agents described the news as “heartbreaking” and extended their “deepest sympathy” to Susan’s family in a string of tributes on social media.

The tragedy comes as the trade gears up for the key booking period for Egypt, a winter-sun destination, and follows a series of tourism setbacks. A UK flight ban to Sharm el-Sheikh has been in place since a terrorist attack in 2015, with Egyptian tourist authorities focusing efforts on Hurghada instead.

Alan Bowen, legal adviser to the Association of Atol Companies, said: “This is the first year they have [really]promoted Hurghada and it’s become a big destination. This [incident] has the potential to seriously damage tourism in Egypt.”