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Bid to raise £3,000 to fulfil a royalist’s dying wish to be buried in Newham

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 May 2020

Royalist fan Lil Forkner getting ready to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday

Royalist fan Lil Forkner getting ready to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday

Archant

A woman is hoping to raise £3,000 to fulfil a royalist’s dying wish to return to Newham to be buried.

Lillian Forkner and Mandy Palmer were neighbours in Plaistow. Picture: Mandy PalmerLillian Forkner and Mandy Palmer were neighbours in Plaistow. Picture: Mandy Palmer

Lillian Forkner lost her legal battle to stay in the Plaistow home where she lived most of her life after Court of Appeal judges told her in 2016 that she had failed to insure and maintain it.

Lillian had believed she was protected by an arrangement agreed with family members that waived her responsibility for the home’s upkeep.

The house passed to Lillian’s brother Brian and sister Pamela after their mother died in 1985. They agreed their sibling could carry on living there rent free.

But judges ruled the waiver ran out when ownership of the Liddon Road house changed hands after Brian and Pamela died.

Royalist fan Lil Forkner getting ready to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthdayRoyalist fan Lil Forkner getting ready to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday

Mandy Palmer from Brentwood helped her former neighbour and friend of 27 years find somewhere to live in Essex after the courtroom defeat.

“It was so difficult because she had lived in that house all her life,” Mandy said.

In November, Mandy helped Lillian move a second time to a care home in Thurrock after she became too ill to look after herself.

But her condition worsened and Lillian passed away aged 80 on May 3 with Mandy at her bedside holding her hand.

Royalist fan Lil Forkner getting ready to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthdayRoyalist fan Lil Forkner getting ready to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday

She did not die of coronavirus, though she and Mandy were tested.

“I think it was a broken heart. She squeezed my hand and cuddled me. I’m finding it a bit of a struggle, but she is with her parents now,” Mandy said.

Lillian had three dying wishes. She wanted Mandy with her because she was scared. She wanted to come home and be taken past her old house before her burial. And she wanted to be laid to rest near her parents.
However, Lillian had about £600 left in her bank account, not enough to cover funeral costs.

Mandy looked into getting help towards those costs, but discovered that support would have to come from Thurrock Council because that was where Lillian died.

Lil ForknerLil Forkner

But to qualify for help, Lillian would need to be buried in Essex, 26 miles from the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium where her parents are buried.

A GoFundMe fundraising appeal saw more than £1,000 donated within five days towards a £3,000 target so Mandy can cover the full cost of burial in Newham.

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“She’s not going back to Thurrock,” Mandy said. “I’ve had sleepless nights about it. Lots of people knew her and may not know she passed away.”

On her friend, Mandy said: “She loved the Royal Family. She wrote letters to the Queen and would get a letter back saying she was doing a grand job.

“She was so patriotic. Her wallpaper was red, white and blue. She wouldn’t let anyone walk all over her. I’m going to miss her.”

Her patriotic displays during royal anniversaries, including the Queen’s 90th birthday, also featured in the Recorder.

Churchgoer Lillian spent her working life at Cohens box factory in East Ham before she was made redundant.

Lil or Lily, as she was known to friends, was quite a character, Mandy said.

Reflecting on their time as neighbours, Mandy said: “I remember there was a guy who parked outside her house a lot. But she wanted to save the space for me. I would say, ‘You can’t stand in a space for me’.

“I turned up one night. It was raining. She was drenched with her hands outstretched.

“She moved out of the way but this guy pulled in before me. The air was blue,” Mandy said.

Not long afterwards, the driver returned to his car to discover a cross daubed in black paint on his motor.

A trail of black paint drops from the car led police to Lillian’s front door.

Carrying the wet paint brush in her hand, she had only led officers straight to her house.

And on Halloween one year, Lillian got so fed up of trick or treaters knocking on her door that she went off in search of them.

She came back seconds later covered in egg and flour.

“She was a massive character,” Mandy said.

To donate visit gofundme.com


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