Birmingham & Black Country

Lydia Wilkinson remembers murdered mum and brother at uni graduation

Lydia and Tracey Wilkinson Image copyright Lydia Wilkinson
Image caption Lydia Wilkinson said her mother Tracey was "really proud" she had got into university

A woman whose mother and brother were murdered in a knife attack said her mum was a driving force behind her completing her degree.

Lydia Wilkinson's mother Tracey, 50, and brother Pierce, 13, were stabbed to death by Aaron Barley at their home in Stourbridge, West Midlands, in 2017.

The student was in her halls of residence at the University of Bristol when she heard the news.

As she graduated she said she "wanted to complete my degree for my mum".

Ms Wilkinson, 20, said while she had considered taking a year out of university, the support she received enabled her to continue with her studies.

"My mum and dad always encouraged me to work hard and try your best and the fact that my mom was really proud that I got into Bristol, and all my family was, has been a big drive for me," she said.

"In terms of my mum and Pierce, we remember [them] and make sure that we remember not what happened, but who they were, we don't want to associate what happened with their memories and that's a good way of looking at it."

Image copyright University of Bristol
Image caption Ms Wilkinson will go on to study a master's degree at the university in September

Ms Wilkinson graduated with a 2.1 in biological sciences and described the ceremony as "emotional".

"There was a time that I didn't think that would happen for me so it makes it all the more poignant.

"I've got amazing support in Bristol, my boyfriend and friends and lecturers, and it's because of their support and what they have done for me that I'm graduating so it's really nice to graduate with them."

Ms Wilkinson was joined at the ceremony by her father Peter, who was seriously injured in the attack carried out by homeless man Barley, who had been taken in by the family.

The student balanced attending court with her studies, and paid tribute to the university who "gave me extensions to my work and checked in with me", while her friends helped with notes.

She will now start a master's degree in biomedical sciences research and in the future hopes to work in pharmacology or life sciences and "hopefully make a difference".

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Tracey Wilkinson died at the family home and her 13-year-old son Pierce died in hospital

Dr Emily Bell, senior teaching associate in the university's School of Biological Sciences, said Ms Wilkinson was "a wonderfully kind and supportive friend to her colleagues during her time at the university".

"Her hard work, determination, enduing positive attitude about life and her continual pursuit to help others is a true inspiration to us all."

Barley was jailed for life in October 2017, with a minimum term of 30 years, for the March 2017 murders. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Mr Wilkinson.

In December 2017 his jail sentence was increased by the Court of Appeal to a minimum of 34 years and 178 days.

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