Former Spice Girl Geri Horner has been left ‘utterly broken’ after the sudden death of her older brother who has died aged 54 after collapsing at home.
Max Halliwell was being treated in intensive care at Watford General Hospital after falling ill at home in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, before he passed away last week.
Geri and Max are known to be incredibly close, with her older brother helping her escape Britain in the chaos when she suddenly quit the Spice Girls at their peak in 1998.
He celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary with wife Sue in August and the couple have two children, Lucia and Mark, who will all be mourning his death today.
Colleagues who worked with him at Mitsubishi told MailOnline he was a ‘great bloke’ who was ‘passionate about the environment’ and became Vice Chairman at the Heat Pump Association earlier this year. He was also mad about cars and motorcycles, one said.
An inquest will be held and it is not yet known why he fell ill, who called the police and what his cause of death was.
Geri was in the Middle East with her husband, F1 boss Christian Horner who was preparing for the Qatar Grand Prix last Wednesday when Mr Halliwell fell ill.
Max, an executive for a green technology company, was a pillar of strength and a shoulder to cry on for his famous sister. He appeared alongside her in 1999 documentary following her life after the Spice Girls.
‘She barely knows what to say or think just now – she loved him dearly’, a friend said last night.
Max’s death at a young age will be doubly devastating for Geri, who struggled to cope after the sudden death of their father Laurence, from a heart attack in 1993. It was Max who found him dead.
Spice Girl Geri Horner (pictured last month) was left ‘utterly broken’ by the death of her brother, Max
Max celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary with wife Sue (pictured together) in August and the couple have two children, Lucia and Mark, who will all be mourning his death today
Geri and Max are known to be incredibly close, with her older brother helping her escape Britain in the chaos when she suddenly quit the Spice Girls at their peak in 1998. They are pictured together here in 1999 during a documentary
The former Spice Girl with her father Laurence, who was found dead by Max shortly before ‘daddy’s girl’ Geri became a global superstar
The insider told The Sun: ‘This is the most awful, devastating, heartbreaking news and Geri is utterly broken by it.
‘It has been a terribly traumatic time since the moment she heard Max had been taken to hospital, and the worst outcome which everybody close to the family hoped might not be’.
It appears police were called to his home after being contacted by someone concerned for his health. Officers found him and he was taken to hospital, where he later died.
A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police said: ‘Police were called at 9.40am on Wednesday 17 November to report the concern for welfare of a man at a residential property in Berkhamsted.
‘Officers, along with the East of England Ambulance Service, attended the scene. The man was located and taken to hospital for treatment, where he sadly later died. His death is being treated as non-suspicious and will be referred to the coroner.’
Friends often described Geri and Max as being close, and she turned to him at the height of her fame during the 90s when she quit the girl band, flying off to Paris to get away from the spotlight.
Max Halliwell (pictured) died in intensive care after collapsing at his Hertfordshire home last week aged 54
In an appearance on Geri’s 2010 Life Stories episode with Piers Morgan, Max explained how the singer was a ‘daddy’s girl’ and how the pair were left devastated by the death of their father, Laurence, from a heart attack in 1993.
He said during the film: ‘Young Geri was always wanting to be the centre of attention.
‘I think Geri doted heavily on her father. Maybe because of the attention that my father gave her as regards to her potential.
‘He obviously saw something early on, so I’d call her a bit of a daddy’s girl, definitely.’
Describing her early life she said the family struggled to feed her, Max and their sister Natalie.
She said: ‘I lived in the same house in Jubilee Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, for my whole childhood.
‘Every street looked almost identical, like the set of Coronation Street.
‘My arrival as the third and last child of Spanish-born Ana Maria and Laurence Francis Halliwell wasn’t cause for wild celebrations. I was considered just another mouth to feed.
‘I feel guilty about it now, but as soon as I was old enough to have such thoughts I suffered from a cuckoo mentality.
‘I imagined that I’d somehow been swapped at birth and placed with the wrong family’.
Mr Halliwell worked for Mitsubishi for 20 years.
Phil Hurley, Chairman, Heat Pump Association, said: ‘The entire heat pump industry is shocked and saddened at the passing of the Heat Pump Association’s Vice Chairman, Max Halliwell.
‘Max was liked and respected for almost two decades as an industry ambassador for heat pumps, often in the front-line of influencing government policy to decarbonise heating in Britain’s homes.
‘Colleagues and competitors alike regarded him as a friend, and he will be missed by all who had the privilege to work with him. Our heartfelt condolences go to his colleagues at Mitsubishi Electric, and especially to his family and personal friends’.