Former FTSE 250 CEO Angela Luger has relived the tragic moment her husband Michael died of a heart attack while snorkelling in the British Virgin Islands.

The ex-CEO of Manchester-based online retailer N Brown Group is now an in-demand non-executive director at a portfolio of companies including JD Sports Fashion; and Jet2holidays.

In the latest episode of The Holiday That Changed My Life podcast, she spoke publicly for the first time about the death of her husband – Professor Michael Luger – during a Catamaran holiday to the British Virgin Islands in 2022.

The popular American came to the UK in 2006 to take up the role of the Dean of Manchester Business School and went on to hold several senior portfolio positions of his own.

Speaking to the podcast’s co-hosts Jen Atkinson and Chris Maguire, Angela said: “It sounds idyllic doesn’t it? There were six of us – three couples – on a Catamaran sailing around the British Virgin Islands.

“It ended up in probably the worst tragedy of my life if I’m honest.

“The output of that was actually quite positive change for me personally even though it was a huge tragedy.

“I feel like I have come through that holiday and I’m a better, bigger version of me.  It certainly changed my life in almost every way.

Entrepreneur opens up about terror attack on new podcast

“It made me realise how short life is, how fragile it can be. That is a mantra I absolutely live by.”

Angela, who has previously worked as the CEO of The Original Factory Shop and held senior positions at Cadbury’s, Coca Cola and Asda, is one of the most respected figures in British retail.

She told the podcast how she’d met her future husband in 2006 at an event at Manchester Business School and they married on December 30, 2007, in Chester.

“He was an incredibly well travelled American who came to live over in the UK for what he thought would be a two-year stint and ended up marrying me,” she joked.

Michael was qualified diver and became a big Manchester City fan. The couple shared a passion for tennis, walking and travel.

However a dream sailing holiday to the British Virgin Islands in 2022 with two other couples ended in tragedy.

Prof Michael Luger died on a sailing holiday to the British Virgin Islands

Prof Michael Luger died on a sailing holiday to the British Virgin Islands

Angela still has videos on her phone of the couple dancing on the deck of the Catamaran on the evening of March 28th, 2022 – the night before he died.

“It was fabulous, you were pinching yourself,” she recalled. “We were watching the sunset and drinking fabulous cocktails. It was the most beautiful evening.”

The couple went snorkelling the following day and their last conversation was about a bright blue fish they’d both spotted.

Angela swam back to the boat after getting salt in her eye while Michael stayed in the water.

A short time later he complained of being short of breath and suffered a fatal heart attack despite the attentions of several medics using defibrillators and an EpiPen,  who had been staying on two nearby boats.

“What I would capture as the worst hour of my life was when they were working on Michael because I knew he’d gone,” she recalled.

“One of the things you reflect on is ‘what if?’ What if we hadn’t gone of holiday? What if we hadn’t gone snorkelling? Michael had a heart condition.  He could have been sitting in an armchair at home and that could have happened then and he wouldn’t have had the help and support he had then.”

Her grief was compounded by the fact local police launched an investigation because it was initially treated as an unexplained death at sea.

Because Michael was Jewish, Angela was trying to arrange for his body to be flown back to Pennsylvania in the USA so his funeral could take place as soon as possible after his death.

Angela Luger with podcast co-hosts Jen Atkinson and Chris Maguire

Angela Luger with podcast co-hosts Jen Atkinson and Chris Maguire

Before leaving the British Virgin Islands, Angela visited a remote area called Smuggler’s Cove and left a tribute to Michael on the canopy of a place called Nigel’s Boom Boom Beach Bar and Grill.

“We wrote ‘live every day as if it’s your last – Michael Luger 1950-2022’,” she recalled. “That legacy is there.”

Despite the tragedy, Angela told the podcast that life has to go on.

“The way I think about it is there’s no point in ending two lives and that can happen,” she said.

“You owe it to both of you to go on, especially when you’ve got children and family. There’s the whole world out there.”

The episode is the 10th and final episode of Season One of The Holiday That Changed My Life podcast, which is produced by What Media and is available on RSS, Apple, Spotify and all good platforms.

Listen here

‘Why my holiday divorce was the best thing to happen’

Other guests in season one have included Social Chain co-founder Dominic McGregor; Married At First Sight contestant Sophie Brown; Dragons’ Den star Derry Green; and travel journalist April Hutchinson.