Dream boat in memory of my Emma

Julie O'Keefe hopes to purchase a boat in memory of her late daughter Emma, pictured with pet Kathy
Julie O'Keefe hopes to purchase a boat in memory of her late daughter Emma, pictured with pet Kathy

A heartbroken mother is determined to keep the memory of her daughter alive.

Julie O’Keefe, 52, from Chorley, has set out on a journey to raise enough money to purchase a barge boat.

The boat would be called ‘Emma’s Dream’ in memory of her daughter Emma Winstanley, who took her own life on September 13, 2010.

It was later revealed Emma suffered from depression and was awaiting assessment for bipolar disorder.

Now Mrs O’Keefe wants to transform the barge into a place where teenagers who have mental illnesses can go and use it for a short break.

Grandmother-of-three Julie wants to raise £50,000, and to help raise money, she will walk all 127 miles of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal with her pet dog, Kathy.

She said: “I want to be able to do something positive to remember Emma.

“Once I’ve raised enough money to purchase the canal barge I hope to contact the charity Mental Health and offer the services of the boat.

“It can be used for teenagers who perhaps need a day’s break or to spend some time away where they can relax.”

Julie admits she once tried to kill herself after losing her daughter.

But with help from her eldest son James and her GP she only wants to be positive and help others out. She added: “People need to realise and argue the corner for their children.

“It’s vitally important people understand and now I want to make my Emma proud of me while she is in heaven.

“Yes, I did try to kill myself but I didn’t want to give up, I need to be there for James.”

Julie will make a dent in the 120-mile trek in July and will look to do 10 miles a day.

But a date hasn’t been confirmed when in July the walk will start.

Due to problems with her knees, Julie has to break up the journey. But she does expect to complete it in July.

Her dog Kathy, who is named after daughter Emma’s middle name, will also be making the trip.

Julie said: “I don’t ever want anybody to be in my situation.

“I want to complete this and purchase the boat for my Emma and James.

“I want to stay positive as I don’t want my daughter to be forgotten.

“Hopefully people will be able to donate money.

“I’ve set up a dedicated bank account just for the boat funds.”

If you would like to donate any funds or perhaps join Julie on part of her walk along the canal, then contact her for more information on 07516306442.