TODAY is the second anniversary of the death of 24-year-old Adam Rogers, who was killed by a single punch in Blackburn. His former girlfriend Emma Armstrong, from Ulverston, talks publicly for the first time.

WHEN Emma Armstrong looks around her flat in Ulverston she feels Adam's presence strongly, no more so than today, two years since his cruel, untimely death.

From the way the plates and glasses are arranged in the kitchen, the choice of furniture, right the way down to one of his handwritten notes which still catches her eye.

For Emma cannot change it. The flat was their first home together and it was the only place she wanted to be following his death in July 2009, 'to be surrounded by him', she explains.

“We had a little tiff about where to put things in the kitchen and we agreed to go with what he wanted.

"I can't bear to change it, even though it does my head in!

“He used to write notes to help him remember stuff and then never look at them.

"It's something about the swimming pool or shop from when he worked at the hotel. I can't move it.

“Everything is exactly the same. We had our own space and it was brilliant. Sometimes it's comforting, but sometimes it's very hard.”

They met through mutual friends on a night out while both studying at the University of Cumbria.

During the night Emma, now 24 and a PE teacher in Dalton-in-Furness, began to panic because she'd lost her handbag.

“Adam was the first to notice and asked me what was wrong. He then made it his mission to find my bag.

"He did everything he could and eventually trotted back with it having found it behind reception.

"We sneaked into the VIP lounge at the club and spent all night talking.

"We exchanged numbers and went on a couple of dates just after Christmas and the start of 2005.”

Love blossomed and Emma said that she 'learned so much' from his generous, infectious personality.

“He would always try and finish his cup of tea and conversation.

"He was very chilled out and relaxed where as I was always rushing around all the time.

“He installed an element of calm in me that I've still got now."

In September 2008, after Adam graduated and with Emma in her final year at university, they moved into the unfurnished flat.

With no money, Adam set off for London working for Fraser Eagle during the summer.

“I hated being so far away from him, but he would ring up and we'd talk and laugh about which furniture we wanted from Ikea.

“He said everyone in London seemed so miserable so he made a point of getting people to smile and say good morning.

"Someone rang up the company and said that it was such a delight to be greeted by Adam every morning.”

In 2009, the couple began to grow apart, with both making sporting commitments which left little free time for each other.

Adam was back in East Lancashire twice a week coaching Padiham Ladies, while Emma was playing hockey.

“It was all very adult. We spoke on the phone and were still really, really close.

"So much so that on the Saturday night, just before he took his parents to the airport, we spoke about a girl he was trying to arrange a date with and he was supposed to come for tea on the Sunday.”

Instead, she got a phone call from Adam's brother Tim on that harrowing Sunday morning.

“He basically said that if you don't come down and see him, you might not ever see him again.

“I packed a bag which I later realised had odd shoes in it and nothing of any use and sat on my doorstep shaking and numb with shock, waiting to be picked up by my parents.

“The first person I saw at the hospital was Adam's friend Ollie. I knew by the look on his face that we'd lost him.

"He just said 'I'm so sorry' and I hit a brick wall.

“When I went to see Adam, he was hooked up to wires, yet just looked calm.

“I sat and held his arm and his hand but he wasn't responding. I was begging him just to squeeze back.”

Emma watched as Pat and Dave Rogers and Adam's brothers said their goodbyes.

She said: “There's a massive gap in my life where he was. It'll take a long time, if ever, and I still have down days.

“The first week after his death I just wanted to be in my flat surrounded by pictures of him and where we had been together.

“That summer I did a lot of mountain biking – something Adam had loved and taught me how to do. It made me feel closer to him.

“It was my first experience of real grief. I didn't realise pain like that could be physical.

“I find it difficult to see people associated with Adam. Just driving back to Blackburn hurts.

"Walking through Pat and Dave's back garden along the path, knowing Adam will not be waving from the kitchen or being daft...

"I just can't physically bring myself to walk down that path.

“As selfish as it is, I've tried to distance myself from it."

Emma went to court to see Adam's killer, Billy Upton, sentenced, and has used her love of sport as a way of channeling her anger.

She said: “It just seems so unfair, it's only word I can use.

“Adam was a peacemaker, that's what he did. He was the calmest guy.

"We were once walking home and he saw a man and woman arguing in the street.

“He put me in a doorway and said: 'I'm going to have to go and do something' and went back to check the woman was OK. That's who he was.”

The loss of Adam has led his parents to launch an anti-violence campaign in his memory called Consequences.

Emma added: “I admire them so much to do something like this and try and find something positive out of a horrible situation.

"The whole family's strength is unbelievable.

“I still can't talk to my friends about it and bottle it up, so for them to stand up in front of young people and talk honestly about the way they feel is a very admirable thing.

“I'd very much like to bring the education package to my school.

"I hope it works and reaches out to people.”

Click on the link below to read Sam Chadderton's blog about the Adam Rogers campaign.