Group hug for Emma at her mum’s funeral

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Linslade mum Julie Washington was gently laid to rest on Thursday exactly as her only daughter, Emma Cook, 18, hoped she would be.

It was a great comfort to the Tesco check-out girl because when her mother died just before Christmas, only weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, she had no idea how she’d pay for the funeral.

Emma Cook with her mum Julie

Emma Cook with her mum Julie

The New Road teen will always be indebted to her fellow Vandyke Upper friends, Kerry Turney and Beth Harper, for rallying round at this traumatic time.

University student Kerry, 18, said: “The news was such a shock. Lots of people didn’t even know Julie was sick.

“Emma said she would have to sell her car to pay for the funeral and that’s when we said we’d organise a Facebook fundraiser.”

Contributions to the page totalled almost £3,000, while donations to an appeal at Oliver Adams Bakery, where Julie worked, topped £1,495.

“It was unbelievable,” Kerry said. “It was really touching that so many people wanted to support us.”

The funeral was the first the teenagers had ever been to. The Milton Keynes Crematorium was packed, with some mourners having to stand outside. Kerry said: “Beth and I sat right at the front with Emma and her Tesco team leader Tina.

“It was very emotional but I managed to hold in the tears until it was over, then we had a group hug. Now we’re giving Emma some space and time to grieve.”

Julie, 43, was taken to the Luton & Dunstable Hospital in October with suspected gall stones. She was subsequently transferred to Addenbrooke’s where a biopsy revealed she had termincal cancer. She died on December 13.

Emma told the LBO she and her mother had always been very close: “It’s been me and mum since I was about 10. She was always very caring and we did everything together.”

> The teenagers will do Race for Life in Julie’s memory later this year in aid of Cancer Research UK.