Appeal for children whose parents died of cancer in same week passes £200,000

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A fundraiser for three children who shared a heartbreaking photo of their parents holding hands on their deathbeds has topped £200,000.

More than 9,100 supporters made donations after terminally ill Julie Bennet, 50, and husband Mike, 57, were pictured together days before they both died.

Their children, Luke, 21, Hannah, 18, and Oliver, 13, from Irby on the Wirral, are said to be "overwhelmed" that the £50,000 target has been smashed.

The picture was taken hours before Mr Bennet died last Monday from a brain tumour. His wife died on Saturday night.

Both were admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral two weeks ago, where Mr Bennet died, before Mrs Bennet was moved to the nearby St John's Hospice.

The appeal has been set up on the JustGiving website by friends so the couple's children can continue to live in the family home and sustain their life and studies.

In a statement, Luke Bennet said: "My brother, sister and I are overwhelmed by the enormous support and generosity we have received from so many friends and well-wishers.

"Mum has appreciated all the help from close friends in supporting the family over the last three years through difficult times and it would be a huge relief to her to know this support will continue."

Mr Bennet, a self-employed cabinet maker, was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2013 and had been nursed at home by his wife and the children.

Mrs Bennet, who was a primary schoolteacher at Somerville school in Wallasey, Wirral, was diagnosed with liver and kidney cancer in May 2016.

Family friend Heather Heaton Gallagher said: "Words cannot express our desperate sadness for such a beautiful family. The Bennets are known to all for their generosity, their love for life, and their down-to-earth approach.

"Facing a double terminal cancer diagnosis is beyond belief and as a community we are working hard to support the family so that they can stay together and ensure that they can continue their education as planned.

"We are setting up a trust for them with the support of a local solicitors and we have offers of help with the funeral costs from, a charity in Manchester, but any help for this wonderful family will make a real difference to their lives."

Donations can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/claire-knight-2?utm_id=107&utm_term=pnZJyjyyK