Family pays tribute to tragic mother and daughter who died together

Double tragedy: Lauren Thornton and her mum Kelly Webster
Double tragedy: Lauren Thornton and her mum Kelly Webster
Have your say

Lauren Thornton should be spending today with her mum Kelly Webster and four friends at the Pleasure Beach.

The fun-loving youngster would have marked her 11th birthday with a sleepover and a day enjoying herself on rollercoasters.

But the youngster, known as ‘Lollipop’, died alongside her mother, 36-year-old Kelly Webster, when a day out on a boat in Windermere turned to tragedy.

The pair, of Church Road, Leyland, had been enjoying a day on a boat on Windermere with Kelly’s partner, Matthew Eteson, 39, when they began to have breathing difficulties.

They were airlifted to hospital but died later of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

Today, Lauren and Kelly’s family say they will not be sad, but will celebrate the day in the way their ‘little diamond’ would have wanted - with a smile.

Lauren’s pink, purple and lilac bedroom at her grandmother’s house on Golden Hill Lane lies just as she left it, with a sign on the door saying ‘Lauren’s Room’.

Nia Webster, who she called ‘Nanny’, along with grandad Alan, described Lauren, a year six pupil at St Annes’s RC Primary School in Leyland, as having an ‘infectious smile’, who would do anything to make others happy.

She said: “Lauren was so looking forward to this birthday.

“She was having four friends over from school on Thursday to have a sleepover.

“They were going to get up on Friday and go to Blackpool to the Pleasure Beach.

“It was all planned. She had given the invitations out before she left school for Easter.

“Lauren didn’t have a care in the world. She loved spending time with her mum and was at the age where they had just started going shopping together and getting their nails manicured. They were very, very close.”

Lauren towered over her school friends at 5ft 3ins, and has been described as beyond her years, making quick jokes with her loving mum and family and enjoying her first taste of independence, being allowed to walk to her aunty Tracy and uncle Gareth’s house in Leyland, where she would play with cousins Keenan, 11 and Olivia, five.

She also had a keen interest in sports, recently taking up netball with her school, and volunteering for many other activities.

Lauren also had a love of horse riding and had planned to take up the hobby again with her mum, also a keen horse rider.

Nia said: “They lit up a room, they both did. This will be with us all forever.

“We are taking comfort that Lauren was such a happy child who was really looking forward to life. She had so many plans for herself.

“We won’t be sad on her birthday. She would have wanted everyone smiling.”

Kelly’s sister Tracy described how her sister would always make a big effort for Lauren’s birthdays, buying her all the latest gadgets and making sure her friends had a good time.

Tracy, of Crown Street, Leyland, said: “Kelly would spoil her. She always spent a fortune on birthday parties.

“The children would even go home with gifts.

“She just wanted to do everything for Lauren, and she was worth it. She always gave so much back.”

As well as staying with Kelly’s parents, she also enjoyed spending time and having sleepovers with dad Neil’s parents, Brian and Irene Thornton, and her uncle Ian.

Brian, a keen Preston North End supporter, would tease her about converting her from her beloved Manchester City - who she took after her dad in supporting.

Brian said: “I was trying to convert her to PNE and I joked about getting her a shirt for her birthday - she wasn’t having any of it.

“We always had a lot of banter. She was very quick. Lauren was beyond her years - 10 going on 20.”

Nanny Irene said: “I think because she was taller than her friends she felt older.

“She always mothered them and said they came to her and she made them feel better. She just always wanted to be around people.

“You could never just sit and relax with Lauren. She would always want to be doing something.

“Some of her friends would just look at her like she was a whirlwind.”