By LAUREN PAXMAN
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
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.
Caroline Atkin (seated, left) shortly before she died in June 2010, with five of her six children and her best friend Julie Jones (standing)
Tragically, her husband, David, 44, died suddenly from a brain haermorrhage 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 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. 'I was absolutely shocked and stunned to find out I'd won.
'It's a huge compliment, but it's not a time for me to celebrate.
'If my best friend hadn't died I wouldn't have the children. 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.'