A COMMUNITY united yesterday (FRI) to say goodbye to tragic teen Lauren Johnson.
More than 100 mourners, dressed in odd socks and some in bright clothing, packed into Accrington’s Crematorium for the 17-year-old’s funeral.
The student, who lived in Blackburn Road, Oswaldtwistle, died after falling from the Arndale Centre last Thursday.
Some mourners were forced to stand outside the chapel to listen to the service relayed on speakers as those inside embraced each other for comfort.
Inside, Lauren’s devastated mum Dawn Johnson paid tribute to her daughter by reading a moving statement.
She said: “Lauren was a sensitive soul, and although she had difficulties in her later years, she never complained and never had a bad word to say about anybody.
“She never realised how gifted she was. If I can be half the person in my lifetime as she was in her 17 years, then I will be happy.”
Friends and family quietly sobbed as Lauren’s former band, Laufeia, played a specially-written song. Ribbons were sold after the service to raise money for her lasting legacy - a mental health charity called Lauren’s Place.
Among those in attendance was Annmarie Goodwin, who employed Lauren at her fashion accessory and gift shop, C’Quinz, in Accrington.
She said: “Lauren was a beautiful person. She would do anything for anybody and was very well spoken.”
The Burnley-born student’s death led to renewed calls for improved safety measures at the centre, in Union Street, the organisation of a protest march through the town, and the launch of Lauren’s place.
Friend Michael Pope, 30, said: “She was so intelligent and humble. She was the type of girl you would want your daughter to grow up and be.”
In the face of the latest tragedy at the Arndale Centre, which has seen five deaths in five years, charity the Samaritans urged those in need of help to get in touch.
Director of Blackburn Samaritans, Chris Ashcroft, said: “Every suicide is a tragedy, particularly when it involves the death of a young person.
“We would like to remind anyone struggling to cope that Samaritans is available round the clock. People can talk to us about what’s getting to them.”
Call 08457 90 90 90, email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org