'She would have done the same for me': Single mum adopts best friend's FIVE children after they lose both parents in 6 monthsJulie Jones – who already had three sons of her own – had been best friends with Caroline Atkin since they started secondary school
Julie Jones describes the day her best friend died as 'the worst day of my life'.
But she didn't have time to grieve.
The single mum-of-three had agreed to adopt Caroline Atkin's three boys and two girls who had been orphaned by the loss of both their parents within six months of each other.
Caroline was given 12 months to live when she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in April 2009.
Adopted family: Julie Jones with her best friend Caroline Atkin's
children, from left, Michael, 12 , Emma, 8, Chantelle, 6, James, 10
and Kieran, 11
Tragically, her husband, David, 44, died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage just nine months later in January 2010.
When an increasingly ill Caroline, 45, was left worrying about what would happen to her children when she too passed away, she asked Julie if she would care for her children – an agreement they dubbed their 'Plan B'.
Caroline passed away a few months later in June, and Julie kept to her word and took all five children into her home – putting the three boys in a tent in the garden until she could get her house re-organised and turning her dining room into an extra bedroom.
Julie, 46, is now mum to her own children Christian, 14, Peter, 18, and Adam, 20, as well as Michael 12, Keiran, 11, James, 10, Emma, 8 and Chantelle, 6 – and she still works full time.
The remarkable family are also in close contact with Caroline and David's eldest son Tim, 17, who lives with relatives in Lincolnshire.
Julie's describes her incredible undertaking as 'natural and ordinary'.
She said: 'Caroline and I met on the first day of secondary school, I was her chief bridesmaid and godmother to most of her kids.
'She put in her will that she wanted me to become legal guardian to the kids so no one could take them away.
'I got a phone call to tell me Caroline had been rushed to hospital, but by the time I arrived she had passed away.
'It was the worst day of my life. Telling the children was the hardest thing.
Caroline Atkin (seated, left) shortly before she died in June 2010, with five of her six children and her best friend Julie Jones (standing)
'I told the little ones when I picked them up from school that afternoon – I'll never forget it.
'They asked me if I would take them to the park – so we went to the park. We've been together ever since.'
She added: 'When they arrived they were like little soldiers all lined up. My friends and family turned up with sheets.'
Brave Julie has managed to make her unique family work, with little financial backing from social services.
The heroic mum, of Huntingdon Cambridgeshire, was disappointed when she contacted her local council for financial support only to be told to sell her family home.
Officials suggested she would be better off by moving into council accommodation and claiming benefits, but Julie refused.
'The children are adorable we talk about
their mummy and daddy a lot, we have the support of family and friends'
Julie said: 'That's not something I would ever want to do. We have a comfortable home we just need a bit of help.The only thing I wish for is a bit of help.'
Julie also had a grant application for an extension to make her home more suitable turned down by the council.
Her dining room has been turned into a bedroom for her own sons, the eldest now lives away at university.
Julie said: 'I love the children like they were my own and would never have seen them end up in care.
'The children are adorable we talk about their mummy and daddy a lot, we have the support of family and friends and I have a lovely job at RAF Brampton.'
And she insisted: 'What I am doing is something very natural and ordinary.
'I'm there when they need a mummy, when they need love and care. And I know Caroline would have done exactly the same for me.'