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‘You will not be lost to us in vain’: Mother of Nottingham stabbing victim gives emotional speech at funeral

The 19-year-old university student Barnaby Webber was killed alongside two others on June 13

Holly Evans
Friday 14 July 2023 15:01 BST
Nottingham stabbing: Barnaby Webber’s friend pays tribute to 19-year-old during funeral

The heartbroken mother of a 19-year-old student killed in a series of stabbings in Nottingham tearfully paid tribute to her “extraordinary” son at a crowded funeral service.

Speaking to around 600 mourners on Friday, Emma Webber promised her child “will not be lost to us in vain” and vowed to her family that “one day the dawn will break for us”.

Barnaby Webber was one of three victims stabbed to death during the early hours of 13 June. While he and his friend Grace O’Malley Kumar were walking along Ilkeston Road after an end-of-term celebration, they were fatally attacked and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Barnaby Webber’s mother paid tribute to her ‘extraordinary' son (Matt Keeble/PA Wire)

In an emotional speech at Taunton Minster in Somerset, Ms Webber revealed how his favourite film was Cars 2 and stated “his ordinary was in fact what made him extraordinary”.

She added that she was “so very thankful” for all the memories of her son and for the many pictures and selfies she took with the talented sportsman.

Paying tribute to Ms O’Malley-Kumar, 19, and Ian Coates, 65, she said that she felt a “connection” with her son’s close friend and could see why her son “thought so highly of her”.

She added: ‘There will come a time when our voice is to be heard publicly regarding the events in Nottingham, and also the desperate need for change in this country, on how this could ever have happened... but not today, I promise you though, Barney, that it will come, and you will not be lost to us in vain.’

Joining her in paying tribute was Mr Webber’s younger brother Charlie, who spoke about their favourite memories and the competitive cricket games they played in the garden.

Barnaby Webber was killed in a stabbing in Nottingham last month (PA)

Speaking of the day his older brother left for university, he said the only thing that helped him pull through was “knowing you were going to come back from uni, and I was going to see you again”.

“Instead, I know I’m not going to see you again, at least not here,” he said. He said he could have made a list of “a million people who would die before you would”, before talking of the bond the brothers shared.

“You’ll have to do a lot more than this to break that bond,” he continued. “You can run to the ends of the universe and I’ll still be there and we’ll watch Star Wars one more time.”

Charlie Webber described his brother as ‘my hero’ in an emotional speech (Matt Keeble/PA Wire)

Many of the history student’s friends from Taunton School, Bishop Hull Cricket Club and the University of Nottingham appeared among the congregation, as well as the families of Mr Coates and Ms O’Malley-Kumar.

In touching tributes, his friends said that he was “annoyingly good at everything he did”, while another added that he was “happy and mad, in equal measure”.

One said that when they first gathered as a group in an attempt to write something, they all spent the first hour “reminiscing and laughing from memories of Webs”.

Laughter broke out in the church as his former teacher recounted anecdotes about the late teenager, who was described as a “truly wonderful human being”.

His friends and teammates described him as ‘one of the all-time good blokes’ (Matt Keeble/PA Wire)

He recalled one incident of the history student’s “pretty poor dalliance with a life as a Kinder Hippo shoplifter”, before praising him for wanting to be “the best version of himself”.

A talented cricket player, his teammates from the University of Nottingham paid tribute to “one of the all-time good blokes”, before adding: “You will always be remembered mate. We love you.”

Ahead of the funeral, Somerset Council closed a number of streets from 10am until 2pm, including Magdalene Street, Church Square, Whirligig Lane and Hammet Street.

Large screens have been placed outside of the church to broadcast the service, with Mr Webber’s family inviting the people of Taunton to pay tribute to their son if they wished to.

His brother was embraced by his father David after his touching tribute (Matt Keeble/PA Wire)

His wicker coffin was brought into the church to music by Annie Lennox, with the service led by the Right Reverend Ruth Worsley, the Bishop of Taunton.

In a vigil last month, Barnaby’s mum urged thousands of people to “hold no hate” as she marked her son’s memory.

The family have since established a foundation in his memory, with a fundraiser succeeding in raising over £11,000.

His family have announced they will be establishing a foundation in his memory (PA Media)

Photographs of all three victims were on display at the entrance to the church, alongside a hockey stick and a Nottingham Forest scarf, in memory of Mr Coates and Ms O’Malley-Kumar.

The two students were killed during the early hours of the morning. A short while later, Mr Coates was stabbed to death before his van was stolen and driven through the town centre, seriously injuring three other individuals.

Valdo Calocane, 31, has been charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder and has been remanded into custody.

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