We kept ourselves to ourselves, until a heartbreaking day saw our community show its true colours

The heartbroken family of a 'bubbly' 13-year-old girl from Skelmersdale have described 'the worst day of their lives' after her sudden death last month.

Tributes have been paid to Bethany Brown, who passed away in her home on March 20. One of seven siblings, her loved ones described her as the sort of person 'you'd never forget'.

Primarily cared for by her sister, Victoria Leigh Skelland and her disabled mother, Philippa, Bethany was undergoing tests for diagnoses of autism and ADHD. Victoria, 29, said: "She was different to most children, she was very very very young.


"She was very young for her age, like primary school age. She gets distracted by things, she doesn't really understand how most things work. She lived in her own little bubble and it was amazing."

Originally from Northampton, the Brown family moved to Skelmersdale around seven years ago but largely kept themselves to themselves. That was until the heartbreaking day last month that changed their lives forever.

Victoria said: "We don't really know many people, we've only been here for a few years. Me and my mum are quite quiet, we don't really make friends or anything like that, so it's just us really.

"To then have this community that's come from nowhere around us, to pick us up at the worst time of our lives and be a support network in the way they have been. I think it is something to shout about and people do need to know."

After going to bed as usual, Bethany was suddenly and unexpectedly found unresponsive the following morning. "That night, she had been feeling unwell and she took some of my mum's medication," Victoria explained.

"We don't know whether this was an accident or anything yet, we haven't had the inquest yet, but it was an overdose. The cause of death was an overdose."

Bethany's sister added: "The day before she had a bit of a tummy bug, but she was her normal, bubbly self. We'd been digging in the garden, she had been playing with the mud and she painted some rocks for the fairy garden that we're building with her niece.

"Two days before was my son's fourth birthday party, she was at the party and she was having the time of her life. We had all different animals in and she was with the animals - she was happy.

"Her best friend was there, you know there was nothing leading up to this in any way."

On the day of her death, Victoria and Philippa emotionally recall the day's events, saying the emergency services had been extremely supportive and empathetic on the "worst day of our lives."

Victoria explained: "Skem Police have been getting a lot of bad press, there isn't a lot of police presence in Skem, there's not a lot of police around normally and people do nothing but moan. They say, where are they when teenagers are doing this, that and the other?

"Where are they when these motorbikes are running up and down? They're doing nothing, but that's because the likes of that morning, which was the worst day of our lives and there was 10 police cars outside our house and that many police officers here, holding us up and keeping us standing and breathing.

"That's where they were. That's what they were doing."

Victoria and Phillipa say the police arrived to their home on the morning of March 20, to better understand what had happened to Bethany. The family recall being asked difficult questions by the officers, but it was all done with the "utmost respect."

49-year-old Phillipa said: "They didn't just do their job that day, they went way over. The way they treated us and the way they treated my daughter was just absolutely second to none.

"We've got the most amount of respect and the most amount of care. It was just amazing what they did for us.

"They made the worst day of our lives just that bit easier." The mum added: "They got me through that day."

'She always had us in hysterics'

Bethany was primarily cared for by her sister, Victoria Leigh Skelland and her mother, 49-year-old Philippa Brown who is living with a disability. As one of seven siblings, Bethany leaves behind sisters Amy and Victoria, as well as brothers Jack, Anthony, Christopher and Simon.

As a close-knit family, Bethany bonded with her siblings, particularly Amy who was only two years older. "Amy always kept her secrets for her, you know, teenage stuff," Victoria said. "We only found out how close her and Amy really were, even more than we knew and we already knew they were close."

"We've had hundreds of cards since, with every one of them saying the same thing - 'your infectious laughter and huge smile will be something we will never ever forget'. If anybody had met her, you knew you had.

"She was just that sort of person. She was so funny, she always had us in hysterics, usually at the very wrong times but we'd all be in hysterics.

"Even sitting with her headteacher in meetings because she had been naughty in school. She'd be there telling jokes and we'd be in hysterics when we were supposed to be having a disciplinary meeting."

Talking to LancsLive, Victoria and Philippa emphasised the kindness they've experienced from their local community since her death. As a Year 8 student at Our Lady Queen of Peace Engineering College, Bethany was well-loved by her peers and those who knew her in the area.

After her passing, the local corner shops and Bethany's old primary school put out donation boxes to raise money for the funeral, showing their support for the Browns.

Victoria added: "There was a lady that turned up, I had never seen her before, I had never met her before. She turned up with a carrier bag with some tea, some sugar, some coffee and some milk.

"She said you never have to worry about offering people a brew now. At Bethany's home, it was absolutely filled with flowers, teddies and things from people.

"We did a bit of a balloon release not long after it had happened, expecting 10 or 15 people to show up. Close to 100 people turned up."

On the day of her funeral, Bethany and her family took a detour pass the school she attended. Outside Our Lady, crowds of people paid their respects as they drove past, showing the number of people who miss and love her.