Liverpool

Thousands raised for children of cancer death couple

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Media captionThe image shows Mike Bennet, 57, and wife Julie, 50, from Irby in Wirral, holding hands in hospital

A six-figure sum has been raised for the children of a couple who died of cancer within days of each other.

The three children released an image of their terminally ill parents' last moments together as they held hands in a Merseyside hospital.

The image of Mike Bennet, 57, and wife Julie, 50, from Wirral, was shared by Oliver, 13, Hannah, 18, and Luke, 21.

By 16:30 GMT on Monday, more than £150,000 had been raised for the three siblings.

Image copyright Bennet family
Image caption The couple's three children, pictured here when Oliver was a baby, are being supported by their aunts and uncles

Family friend Heather Heaton Gallagher said the amount of money raised had "blown everyone's socks away".

'Chemo isn't working'

She said: "The kids are astounded, they couldn't believe it.

"They are seeing all this support coming from across the world and it's inspirational to them."

Ms Gallagher said the children were being supported by their aunts and uncles and the money would be used to help them through college and university.

Image copyright Bennet family
Image caption A friend said the couple were "very loving, very solid together and entwined"

She said their parents had been "besotted" with each other.

She added they "were just so in love" and "always made time for everyone".

"About three weeks ago I met Julie and she said 'that's it, the chemo isn't working' and that was very hard to hear."

The pair were admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital two weeks ago, where Mr Bennet died on 6 February.

Mrs Bennet, a primary school teacher at Sommerville School, was then moved to St John's Hospice and died on Saturday.

Image copyright Bennet family
Image caption Julie and Mike Bennet and their three children, Oliver, Hannah, and Luke

She was diagnosed in May last year with cancer which began in the liver and kidneys and then spread to other organs.

Her husband, a self-employed cabinet maker, had been fighting a brain tumour since 2013 and had been nursed at home by Mrs Bennet and the children until his wife became too ill to care for him.

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