PARENTS of children tragically stabbed to death appeared on a moving episode of Eastenders to demonstrate the reality of knife crime.

The cast of the popular soap gathered for a harrowing episode focussed around the funeral of Shakil Kazemi.

Shakil, played by Shaheen Jafargholi, was stabbed outside the Queen Victoria pub by a gang seeking revenge for a stolen bike.

He died slowly leaving his friends and family devastated.

His on-screen mum, Carmel Kazemi, played by Bonnie Langford, has been highlighting the subject of knife crime ever since.

In a first for the show, viewers heard true life accounts from people who have lost relatives to knife crime.

Among those appearing was Caroline Shearer, from Clacton, whose son Jay Whiston died, aged 17, after he was stabbed to death outside a house party in Colchester in September 2012.

Caroline has since set up the Only Cowards Carry campaign.

After appearing on the show, she said: “The cast were really getting into it, you could see they really cared.

“Bonnie Langford was the sweetest, kindest woman I have ever met. They all really made us feel welcome.

“There was about 42 of us in total, and eight of us got picked to do one on one interviews.

“All the parents were lovely, we were all in the same boat. It was a bit heavy going, as it was like working with your grief and mentally I can honestly say I was so drained.”

The episode showed Shakil’s coffin being lowered into the ground, with the cast standing around it. Just behind the cast stood the 42 parents, holding photos of their children they had lost to knife crime. It was the first time the directors have shot an episode in this way since the soap first aired in 1985.

Caroline added: “They treated us with respect and dignity, and we were proud of what they did.

“I needed to do this for Jay, not for the charity. We were bringing this to the forefront, into people’s homes, as this is not a soap, this is real life and it’s what happens.”

Another parent to feature on the show was Ann Oakes-Odger, whose son Westley Odger, 27, was stabbed at a cash point in Colchester in 2005.

Ann was given an MBE for knife crime prevention work.

She said: “Obviously it was emotional, it did take one back to the impact of when Westley’s life was taken.

“The episode was handled sensitively and it was powerful. When Westley was fatally stabbed there was no focus on knife crime at all. The parents on the show are just a handful of many families across the country.”

 Only Cowards Carry is looking for a company to sponsor a van so they can transport around knife drop-off bins. Visit