TWO schoolchildren devastated by the deaths of their parents are now being told they must soldier on without the support of their closest friends.
Orphans Alice, 10, and nine-year-old Alex Mogg suffered a terrible loss when their mother Helen died in 2003, and Widnesian father Roy passed away with lung cancer in February this year.
But as the pair struggle to settle into life at their aunt's house at Garston in Liverpool, their future at Fairfield Junior school in Widnes now hangs in the balance.
Halton Borough Council's Social Services department had been funding the transport fees to take the siblings from Garston to Widnes by taxi every day.
But now the council is insisting that the cash is withdrawn in July this year, as the transport arrangement had been agreed for a limited time only.
Since their parents died, Alice and Alex have been receiving bereavement counselling at Fairfield and it is feared that a second upheaval to a new school in Liverpool will unsettle them even more.
The council paid for their transport fees, even when the children were living with their dad close to the school and caring for him during his final days.
Their aunt June, 52, said: 'It has been very, very hard for the children over the past few months because they were very close to their dad and they have had all the upheaval of coming to live with me.
'The council had been paying for a taxi to take them to school, even when they were living with their dad, because he was too ill to take them.
'That arrangement carried on after they moved in with me in February.
'But now we have been told that, after July, there will be no more funding.
'Obviously it would be much easier for the children to go to a school by me, but not in their heads. To them it means they are losing their friends.
'Alice only has one more year at the school and Alex two more years.
'I have a car but I can't afford the cost of driving them to and from Widnes every day.
'My argument is that if they had special needs or were naughty they would get everything.
Alice, who received a 'knight in shining armour' award for caring for her father during his illness, said: 'We like being at our school.
'We have friends there and we like our counsellors. We go to see them once a week.
'They are nice. We chat to them and play games. We are happy that we can talk to somebody.
'We want to be in our school. It's not fair. Social Services should be helping children, not breaking hearts.'
Staff at Fairfield say they are unable to comment while investigations get under way.
A spokeswoman for Halton Borough Council said: 'In recognition of the tragic circumstances and the need for the children, in the short term, to continue attending their school, the council did agree to fund the cost of transporting the children to the school, but for a limited period.
'This commitment was then extended to the end of this school year - July - to allow a natural break and, by then, it would be in their best interests to go to a school where they now live and, importantly, establish new friendships.'