News of the loss of a 19-year-old Vernon woman in the U.K. hit home for Julie Taylor.
It was exactly two years and one day earlier that Taylor had lost her 19-year-old grandson Liam, in the same county of Chelmsford, Essex – not far from where Ashley Wadsworth was found dead Feb. 1.
“For this reason, she was drawn to the news of Ashley, and that she was so far away from her family,” Wadsworth’s cousin Melissa Locke said.
Taylor organized a vigil walk and gathering at a local park Saturday, Feb. 5 and was taken back by the large turnout.
“Over 150 people from the community attended the absolute touching ceremony, held by complete strangers,” Locke said.
A photo of Wadsworth, candles, flowers and balloons were brought, while they read words from her sister Hailey, played violin, and sang Amazing Grace.
“Somehow, a group of total strangers from across the world have managed to make an unbearable situation just a little bit more bearable,” said Locke.
“We are so deeply touched by this gesture of support, kindness, and compassion. The world needs more people like this. Ashley was like this, so it reflects her so beautifully.”
Chelsey Taylor, Liam’s aunt, attended the vigil with her family, including her six-year-old son, who laid flowers for Wadsworth.
“None of my family had met Ashley but it touched our hearts and we here as a community came together. Here in Chelmsford we are thinking of Ashley’s family and friends.”
Liam lost his life just five minutes up the road from where Wadsworth lost hers.
“Ashley’s life got taken in the same neighbourhood we grew up in,” said Chelsey, adding that it’s not a bad neighbourhood.
Liam, like Ashley, was found stabbed. But Liam’s death was by four masked killers, according to Taylor, three of which have since been jailed for his murder.
Ashley was staying with her boyfriend at the time she was found by police.
Jack Sepple, 23, has been charged with murder and is set to appear in court March 7 to enter a plea, prior to a provisional trial date of Sept. 5.
As a family, the Wadsworths are mourning together, connecting with each other every day, leaning on each other and surrounding each other with love.
“Ashley was a very special part of our family and there are no words that can describe our grief at this time,” Locke said.
“This has been an unthinkable tragedy, and something that is not supposed to happen in real life. It is pain no mother or father, sister or brother, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or friend, should ever have to endure.”
A moment of silence also took place at Tolko Lavington and Armstrong Monday morning for Ashley, whose dad Ken works at the mill.
Community members, from near and afar in England have been reaching out with condolences, thoughts, prayers, and donations to help bring Ashley home.
“There are several unforeseeable costs associated with the logistics of a tragedy like this happening in another country,” said Locke, as the family is working to bring Ashley home to be laid to rest.
A Facebook memorial page has also been established.