LETTERS OF FAREWELL

HUNDREDS of mourners are expected to celebrate the lives of “gorgeous little girls” Emily and Brooke Salske at a funeral which will feature a special box for letters written to the young sisters from Baranduda.

The girls’ mother Debbie Andrew wants her daughters’ friends to feel comfortable at the funeral and the opportunity to offer heartfelt messages is part of a farewell which will include pop music and a photo tribute to Emily, 10, and Brooke, 7.

The funeral will be held on Friday from 11am at Wodonga’s New Life Chapel, formerly known as Faith City.

It has a seating capacity of 800.

Emily and Brooke died on January 31 when a car being driven by their father Shaun Salske, a former Wodonga policeman, ran off Baranduda Boulevard and crashed into a tree.

They had been travelling home from Baranduda Primary School where two days earlier Emily had begun year 5 and Brooke year 2.

Speaking on behalf of the family, the girls’ aunt Rachael Andrew said her sister Debbie had been touched by the good wishes of the girls’ friends.

“We are very focused on celebrating the lives of the girls and the funeral will be more like a children’s service,” Ms Andrew said.

“That was Debbie’s thought, to do something like that with children able to bring along their letters and drawings, because she’s already had a lot of their little friends write letters and come to her.”

Ms Andrew said messages and offers of groceries and food had touched her sister, who was shellshocked at the loss of her only children.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the community, which we’re very grateful for and that has helped us,” Ms Andrew said.

“They were such beautiful, vivacious and gorgeous little girls.”

The sisters’ schoolmates have paid tribute to Emily and Brooke with signs and drawings on display at Baranduda Primary highlighting their affection.

Principal Jody Grimmond said each one of the staff and 261 pupils had felt the loss of the girls.

“It’s been devastating, it’s a tragic thing and as far as its impact goes, everyone is feeling it,” Ms Grimmond said.

“All the staff and kids are shocked and we’ve felt it across the board.”

Psychologists, social workers and nurses have helped the pupils talk through their feelings and memories with a session also held to help parents cope with the fallout from the tragedy.

Ms Grimmond said a ceremony would be held at the school with balloons, featuring Emily and Brooke’s favourite colours purple and yellow, to be released with messages attached to them.

She said there were also plans for a permanent memorial at the school.

“They loved to dance and organise dance sessions at lunch and we wondered about a dance spot or a seat where kids could sit and remember them, but we’re still gathering ideas and we haven’t finalised anything, but we want to make it special.”

Friday’s funeral will start at 11am with Northern Albury Anglican church priest Peter McKeague and deacon Christine Page to preside and Albury-Wodonga Health manager Dennis Baker to give a eulogy.

Debbie and Rachael Andrew both work at the hospital as nurses.

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