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Flower tribute to crash victim

PUBLISHED: 14:28 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 14:38 07 July 2010

IT was one of the most horrific things they have ever had to live through, and the pain of losing a child in a road crash will never leave.

But in a bid to ensure the memory of their beloved daughter lives on, the parents of Debbie Coomber, who was killed on the A47 southern bypass by a petrol tanker in 1993, have managed the almighty task of naming a new breed of fuchsia in her honour.

IT was one of the most horrific things they have ever had to live through, and the pain of losing a child in a road crash will never leave.

But in a bid to ensure the memory of their beloved daughter lives on, the parents of Debbie Coomber, who was killed on the A47 southern bypass by a petrol tanker in 1993, have managed the almighty task of naming a new breed of fuchsia in her honour.

Debbie, who used to work at the Times's sister paper the EDP, died aged just 24 as she was heading to Yarmouth to meet a client when a petrol tanker, not seeing her car, turned hitting her head on. She died in hospital from a ruptured aorta caused by her seatbelt.

Her distraught father Frank Lambert, from Dereham, desperately sought a hobby to seek solace from the grief when he was invited to the Shipdham Fuchsia Club.

He said: “When it happened I lost all interest in everything I'd been interested in before. I needed to find something I wanted to do, something to take my mind off it.

“I started fishing but it was too quiet, there was too much time to think. I would end up crying on the bank. The last time I went, I didn't even get my gear out of the car. I just sat there for half-an-hour then came home.

“I'd always had a passing interest in gardening, I was invited to a monthly meeting at the club and that was it. It worked. It's therapeutic. I've made a lot of friends throughout the country, entered shows and given talks.

“For the last 10 years I've wanted to find something to do in her memory. But I wanted it to be right and not just anything.”

Then in 2004 Mal Wilkinson, a prestigious fuchsia hybridiser - someone who makes new breeds - rang Mr Lambert and asked if he could design a flower in honour of Debbie after he heard about her from a mutual friend.

Over the next couple of years Mr Wilkinson and Mr Lambert tried new varieties of fuchsia in search of the perfect one.

Mr Lambert said: “It's easy to go to a nursery and pay for them to name a breed which only looks slightly different to the others.

“I wanted something really special. A fuchsia that people would want to enter at shows. Mal would ring me up and say 'scrap that I've got a better one.'

“We've been growing this one for a while now and it lasts. It's single flowering, pastel coloured and has lilac in it, one of Debbie's favourite colours.

“Most of the other varieties are very bold reds. It's brilliant and unique.”

The new fuchsia is called Deborah Jane. It will be produced in shows shortly and released on sale to the public next year.

Mum Linda Lambert said: “It's marvellous. There's always that fear that people will forget her. That Debbie's memory won't live on. That she'll go away. Now I know that can't happen. Her memory, and her, will live on and people are going to remember her.”

The Deborah Jane fuchsia will be on display at the Shipdham and District Fuchsia Show from August 2 to August 3 at Dereham Memorial Hall, where the Deborah Jane memorial plate for the best 5in single pot will also be awarded.

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