FAMILY and friends said an emotional goodbye to Stratford mum Rachael Martin on 23rd June during a funeral service at Oakley Wood Crematorium.
Around 150 mourners gathered at the crematorium’s North Chapel to pay their respects to Rachael, who died in a tragic road traffic collision whilst saving her young daughter Keira’s life on 20th May.
Keira, who suffered serious injuries to her pelvis and lower spine in the incident, has already undergone operations at St George’s Hospital in London and is currently undergoing treatment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Six-year-old Keira arrived at the service in an ambulance, while her older sister Leah, who witnessed the accident on Western Road also attended.
The service was led by Reverend Patrick Taylor of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford and gave the opportunity for family and friends to pay tribute to a much-loved mother, daughter, sister and friend.
Speaking at the service, Rachael’s father Bill Simpson, said: “Your mum, dad, daughters, sisters, close relatives and friends are all here today because we miss you and love you so very much. Our brave heroic girl.
“You have touched the hearts of everyone here today. Your ultimate sacrifice in saving little Keira’s life will always be remembered with pride, respect and love.
“We will miss your smile, your laughter, cheekiness and your stubbornness. Your mum and I will not miss your music or your cooking but we will miss your positive attitude to life, your strong will and determination and your love and devotion to Leah and Keira. We will miss all these things and more. Be at peace now our lovely daughter.
“Leah and Keira are here today to show how much they love and miss you so very, very much. When I first saw Keira at the hospital she kept on saying ‘mummy saved me, mummy saved me.’
“Rachael you have two remarkable daughters. You must be very proud of them. They have strong personalities – confident, outward going and fun to be with, just like you!”
Speaking through tears, Bill went on to thank all those who had assisted at the scene of the accident, the work of the NHS in treating Keira, the emergency services, the air ambulance and Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham.
He added: “Sue and I have not had the chance to fully grieve for our daughter Rachael but we know that one day when we suddenly find ourselves alone together we will be able to talk about Rachael and all the great times we had, and, as for all parents, the laughter and the tears. I am sure once the tears really come it will be difficult to stop.
“We will cry and cry and cry. Then we will hold each other tight, wipe the tears from our eyes and leave to pick Leah and Keira up from school. They will greet us with smiles of joy and happiness and talk of their day at school and we will laugh and laugh and laugh.
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much and with the help of family and friends, their school and school friends, Leah and Keira will have a good childhood. They will be deeply loved and cared for and will grow up always remembering their heroic mother Rachael.”
Reading a tribute from Rachael’s sisters Emma and Laura, Rev Patrick Taylor said: “Although I’m sad without you and wish that you were here, within my heart your lovely smile still shines bright and clear. I treasure all those memories of growing up with you, the secrets we would always share, the childish things we’d do. As the years passed quickly by we grew closer still, I miss you dearest sister and you know I always will, love Emma and Laura.”
Speaking later in the service Rev Patrick Taylor said that although physically Rachael was no longer here, she would live on through Keira and Leah.
He added: “I’m sure we’ve all heard parents say “I’d do anything for my kids”, I must have said it myself. But words are one thing, the action of actually laying down your life for someone you love is quite another. Yet this is what Rachael did. She did it because of her love for her children.”
In a tearful tribute to her best friend, Rachael Taylor, said herself and Rachael used to laugh and joke together like sisters, describing her as a fantastic, loving and beautiful mother and the best friend she could have asked for.
She added: “Sleep tight my dear friend, we give you to the rest of the angels up there.”
Donations at the service were given to Ronald McDonald House and the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.
Speaking after the service Mr Simpson said: “I thought the vicar was very good and he said some lovely things about Rachael, he took the girls in after the service to Rachael’s coffin so they could say a little prayer for their mum.
“The ambulance staff from Birmingham Children’s Hospital were great too, Keira has a nurse called Dan and he came with her, even though it was his day off, to make sure she was alright.”
Bill went on to thank staff from the Audi garage on Western Road for coming to the funeral and for looking after Leah following the accident.
A reporter from the Stratford Herald attended the funeral with permission of Rachael’s family.