The children of a terminally ill couple who died of cancer within days of each other have said they are “overwhelmed” after more than £100,000 was raised for them.
The money flooded in after the children of Julie and Mike Bennet, from Wirral, released a photograph of their parents holding hands on their deathbeds.
The picture was taken hours before Mike Bennet died last Monday from a brain tumour. His wife, Julie, died on Saturday night at the same Merseyside hospice.
More than £115,000 had been raised on Monday morning for the couple’s three children – Oliver, 13, Hannah, 18, and Luke, 21 – by 5,370 members of the public on a JustGiving page set up to help them “continue to live at home and sustain their activities 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.”
Mike Bennet was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2013 and had been nursed at home by Julie and the children.
The 57-year-old was a self-employed cabinetmaker who had served his apprenticeship with Baldock’s Furniture Manufacturers in Liverpool.
Julie, 50, who was a primary schoolteacher at Somerville school in Wallasey, was diagnosed with liver and kidney cancer in May 2016.
Family friend Heather Heaton Gallagher described the couple as “the most supportive parents”. She said: “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.
“The biggest challenge is that the family car, a Motorbility car has to be returned, meaning that the kids can’t get around to manage practical and personal activities.
“Julie and Mike have been the most supportive parents, encouraging their children’s interest in dance and acting from a very early age.
“All three children thrive on the stage and I know that Julie and Mike would not want this to stop their children from dancing and performing. To help them do this, we need to make them mobile again and help cover the costs that this brings.”
The fundraising page, set up only six days ago, raised more than £15,000 in the first 24 hours. A family friend, Sue Wright, said of Julie: “I told her the community would come together to help look after her kids – and she opened her eyes and smiled.”