Wish to have her ashes made into a firework is honoured by family of Burnley College tutor who died of Covid-19

The family of a Burnley College tutor, who died from Covid-19 in January, have honoured her wishes to have her ashes sent up in a firework.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 2:12 pm

Donna Coleman had always told her family that if anything happened to her she wanted her remains to be made into a firework.

And, on Hallowe'en, and 10 months after her death, her family held a memorial for Donna which included a five minute firework display, rounded off with three rockets containing her ashes.

Donna's sister Stephanie said: "Donna had always said she wanted her ashes in a firework so we were determined to make it happen even though it wasn't as easy or straightforward as we first thought it would be."

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The family of Donna Coleman, a tutor at Burnley College, who died of covid in January, had her ashes made into a firework to honour one of the requests she had made.

The display was accompanied by the song Together Again by Janet Jackson which struck a chord with Stephanie when she heard it playing a few days after her sister's death. Stephanie said: "It just gave me a very calm feeling and after that I kept hearing it played everywhere.

"If I feel sad or down I just say 'come on Donna' and that song always seems to appear, wherever I am.

"I believe she is is always with us and around us."

Donna's sister Dan organised the firework tribute through a Yorkshire based company.

Donna (third from left) with her brother Dan and sisters Vicki (left) and Stephanie

Around 150 family, friends and colleagues past and present, gathered the watch the display and pay their final tributes to popular and much loved Donna at Haslingden Cricket Club.

Stephanie said: "It was a night to celebrate Donna's life and give her the send off she would have wanted and what she deserved.

"It was fantastic to see so many people there for Donna and also for us, as a family, to be able to meet them and talk about Donna and share memories, something we couldn't do at her funeral due to lockdown restrictions.

"We won't ever get over losing Donna but this gave us some form of closure and the chance to say goodbye properly."

Donna with Amalee, the child she took under her wing when her mother, who was Donna's best friend, died.

The evening included karaoke, another of Donna's favourite things, and a raffle raised the overwhelming total of £1,340 which will be donated to Donna's Wish.

This is a trust fund for six-year-old Amalee who is the daughter of one of Donna's closest friends who died aged just 37 five years ago. Donna promised her friend she would continue to be part of Amalee's life and keep her mum's memories alive.

True to her word Donna honoured her pledge and was like a second mum to Amalee. She picked her up from school once a week, had her for tea and took her on shopping trips and days out at the seaside.

The money raised at the memorial will be added to the £12,000 already in the fund.

Donna with her parents, Danny and Carole

Donna was diagnosed with Covid-19 just before Christmas. And although she appeared to be recovering from the virus she took a turn for the worst and was rushed to the Royal Blackburn Hospital where she died in January.

Popular and well liked by staff and students at the college where she was described as a 'huge presence' Donna loved her job and 'lived for work.'

Paying tribute to Donna at the time of her death, her sister Vicki, said: " Donna deserves to be recognised as she has touched so many people’s lives. She never did anything for herself, it was always about other people.

"She loved to help people, she had a big heart and she would have done anything for anyone.

"Her job involved helping people get their lives on track and she also played a big part in helping vulnerable young people to stay in education.

“Donna has helped countless people, both in and out of her work, and she’s changed the lives of many more.

Donna (right) and Stephanie when they met James Corden after seeing his show in Los Angeles

“People would turn to Donna for help and she would do her utmost to get them on the straight and narrow, into work and to change their lives."

An Instagram page called @donnaswish was set up for friends, colleagues and former students to post their own memories and tributes. In one moving testimony the parent of one of Donna's pupils expresses her sadness and regret that Donna will never know how her son has been accepted into the Parachute Regiment at just 16.

The parent said it was Donna's 'hard work and dedication' that helped him to achieve this, adding: "I know how proud she would have been of him. Donna genuinely cared for him and she believed in him when no-one else did."

Another parent described Donna as 'the most passionate, dedicated and caring educator I have ever met. This lady changed my son's life.'

Originally from Bolton, Donna moved to Rossendale as a child with her family and spent many years of her career working at North Lancs Training Group in Accrington. Former colleagues there have created their own unique video in Donna's memory with a montage of photographs and personal tributes.

One of four children, Donna had spent a number of years living with Stephanie. Best friends aswell as sisters they did everything together, even travelling the world.

In February the University and College Union revealed it was investigating the circumstances of Donna's death.

The Health and Safety Executive, the government body that polices workplace safety, also has an on going inquiry into Donna's death.

Caring and passionate about her work to help young people, Donna Coleman was described as 'one in a million.'