Nana 'sacrificed herself' for baby Carter

05:53, Sep 14 2012
Julie Ferne
Family carry Julie's Ferne's coffin to a waiting hearse outside Di's Chapel in North Harbour, Auckland.
Julie Ferne
Julie's son Phil Preston - the father of baby Carter - with daughter Milly.
Julie Ferne
Julie's son Phil Preston - the father of baby Carter - with daughter Milly.
Julie Ferne
Julie's son Phil Preston - the father of baby Carter - with daughter Milly.

A casket painted by friends and family sent Auckland artist Julia Mari Lyn Ferne, known as Julie, "across the stream and to the afterlife".

Ferne was remembered by more than 200 of her close friends and family in a ceremony at the All Saints Church in Birkenhead today following her death in Vietnam last month.

Ferne had been visiting one of her three sons, Phil Preston, when she lost her footing while holding his new son Carter, and fell through a railing to her death. 

Julie Ferne
LOVING FAMILY: Julie Ferne with her grandson Carter.

It's not known what the long-term injuries are to Carter, but Phil said he has made remarkable progress.

"He's coming along very well which is surprising. Last night he fed on a couple of bottles himself which is a first for three weeks," he said. "It's more than anything I expected. It made today much easier."

Phil told the funeral that his mother had died saving her new grandchild which was simply in her nature.


"In her last thoughts she showed us how much she values her grandchildren by sacrificing herself." 

Mourners also celebrated what light she had brought into their lives.

Son Sean Preston said he was sad his mother was taken so early in her life. 

"I'm sad that Carter is spending the first few weeks of his life in hospital and I'm sad for the future times that the granddaughters should have had with their nana."

But Sean said the times spent already were wonderful and those memories will last a lifetime.

He also said a trust has been set up in his mother's name which will go towards providing better equipment at the Ho Chi Minh Children's Hospital.

The account already has more than $50,000 in it.

"Julie was shocked by the poverty, and when we were in hospital with Carter there was a baby in the bed next door with a heart condition. The parents were taking it in shifts to pump the ventilator to keep him alive."

Sean said he and his brothers had been inspired to make something positive come out of a bad situation and seeing people donate had been overwhelming.

"I was seeing all the Facebook messages and when I checked the account I just choked up," he said. 

"To see all the support from not just New Zealand but from around the world, it had tears running down my face. It's turned out to be something that's grown on its own, it's a legacy that mum would be proud of."

Auckland Now