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God has helped me carry on, says mother of murdered daughter
The Christian mother of a young woman who was shot dead during a shooting in Birmingham exactly 13 year ago says she praises God everyday for helping her continue campaigning against gun crime and gangs.
Beverley Thomas' 18 year daughter Charlene Ellis died along with a friend, 17 year old Letisha Shakespeare, when four men opened fire with a machine gun and pistols outside a party early on 2nd January 2003.
Beverley, whose other daughter - Charlene's twin - Sophie Ellis, was seriously injured in the incident, told Premier: "I could have lost my other daughter [too].
"I thank God every morning for giving me the inspiration and the strength to carry on to do the work that I do now."
Wanting to give back to her community and to ensure Charlene's name would live on "in a positive way", Beverely has since been working with schools and faith-based groups to highlight her story and raise awareness of guns and gang culture.
Speaking about taking her message into schools, Beverley says she hopes: "to enlighten young people, families and also teachers of what I went through and to look out for [warnings] signs at schools and at homes."
Beverley said the Christmas and New Year period is a difficult time of year, however, she is proud of her campaign work, adding it has helped in her healing journey.
She went on to say: "I work with other parents who have lost their loved ones through the same tragic way.
"I'm able to go round, sort of like counsel them and work alongside them to get through their difficult time."
Beverley's story is included in a new book by the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu called 'Agape Love Stories'.
It explores the personal encounters of God's agape love in their lives of 22 people and also features Richard Taylor, the father of Damilola Taylor.