Mental health fundraiser in Hitchin in memory of Stevenage’s Francesca Barrow

PUBLISHED: 10:43 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:33 18 May 2018

Francesca Barrow, who tragically lost her life in May 2017. Picture: Carmel Brown

Francesca Barrow, who tragically lost her life in May 2017. Picture: Carmel Brown

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Family and friends are to raise funds in memory of a young woman who tragically lost her life last year following a battle with mental illness, aged just 27.

Francesca Barrow, from Stevenage, died on May 27 last year. Her family is to mark the first anniversary of her passing with a family fun day at Hitchin’s Anchor pub, in aid of Friends Raising Awareness Now, or FRAN – a mental wellness campaign set up in Francesca’s memory.

There will be live music, a bouncy castle, animal encounters, Disney characters and much more for all ages from 12 noon until late. Proceeds from the day will go towards a room in her honour at the Stevenage branch of mental health charity Mind.

“It will be decorated like she would have liked – somewhere nice for people with mental health issues,” Francesca’s mother Carmel told the Comet. “Not some grotty waiting room. We want to keep her memory alive, because she should still be alive.

“She was amazing and absolutely beautiful. She lit up the room with her smile.”

Francesca, whose mental health diagnoses included borderline personality disorder, died four days after taking an overdose.

Concerns have been raised by the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust in an internal review and report – and Carmel hopes an inquest next month will confirm Francesca did not intend to take her own life.

Carmel told the Comet her daughter overdosed as a cry for help after experiencing adverse side effects from the medication she was prescribed.

“She said to me she would never do anything like that,” she said.

“When she took the overdose, she told her dad. That’s not someone who wants to die.

“She should still be here. We should be organising a grandchild’s christening, not a memorial.”

Francesca was born in Hitchin, and also lived in Manchester and Letchworth before the family moved to Stevenage. She lost her 16-year-old brother John, who had been terminally ill with muscular dystrophy, when she was nine.

Some 35 family members are set to come from Manchester for the fundraiser in her memory at The Anchor on Sunday, May 27.

North Herts College, further up Cambridge Road, will open for people to park free of charge from 10am to 6pm on the day.

Further fundraisers planned in Francesca’s memory include quiz nights, a karaoke contest and a Peaky Blinders evening in July.

Stevenage’s branch of Mind can be contacted on 01438 369216 or admin@mindinmidherts.org.uk.

You can also donate money online at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/carmel-brown-2.

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