Mum’s mission in daughter’s memory

Julie O'Keefe hopes to purchase a boat in memory of her daughter Emma, pictured with pet Kathy
Julie O'Keefe hopes to purchase a boat in memory of her daughter Emma, pictured with pet Kathy
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A heartbroken mum is hoping music fans will help her dream come true in memory of her beloved daughter.

Julie O’Keefe has organised a night of country music, to take place on Friday, at Fort San Antone, in Warton.

Julie, from Chorley, has set out to raise enough money to purchase a canal barge, which would be called Emma’s Dream – in memory of her daughter Emma Winstanley, who took her own life in September 2010.

Julie wants to transform the boat into a place where teenagers who have mental illnesses can go and have a short break.

Emma, only 19, suffered from depression and was awaiting assessment for bipolar disorder.

Mother-of-three Julie wants to raise £50,000, and has already walked all 127 miles of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal with her pet dog, Kathy, named after Emma’s middle name.

The 52-year-old said: “The barge would be a place of safety, peace and tranquillity – away from the stresses of life which young people with mental health problems struggle to deal with every day.

“Emma adored country music and loved to line dance, hence the reason for holding a country music night.

“People have been really generous and supportive of the event. The venue has been amazing, we have a Garth Brooks tribute act playing, people are giving their time for free.

“I want to raise money for the barge, but I also want to raise awareness of mental health issues, especially among young people.

“I don’t want anyone else to be in this situation.

“Sadly, I found Emma hanged in my bedroom in September 2010. It was devastating for the whole family, and I still have to take sleeping tablets. But I have to be strong for my other kids.

“Emma was so adorable, I used to call her my ‘mini me’. I just want to do something positive to remember her.

“Once I’ve raised enough, I want to contact mental health charities to offer them the services of the boat.

“The fund-raising is giving me something to focus on and helping keep me strong.”

Doors open at the Lytham Road venue, at 7pm and the music will start at 7.30pm. Email Julie for tickets or more information – or search on Facebook for Emma’s Dream.

Julie is also urging any parents whose children are showing signs of extreme behaviour to contact her for more information about this often misunderstood illness. Her email is