My daughter, Lorna, was born on 23rd October 1981 and died on 7th May 2001 – 48 hours after swallowing one ecstasy tablet whilst out clubbing with friends from University.
She was born in Geneva and spent her too brief, but happy life living in France, attending a French primary school, then International School of Geneva, where she obtained her IB before going on to University in the UK.
Lorna was an incredible young woman; optimistic, a wonderful friend to her peers, a very caring sister to her older brother, and her and I had a very close relationship. Unfortunately, her father and I separated just 6 months before Lorna died, however, I don’t believe that this contributed to what happened. She adored life, was adored by her friends and was extremely happy at Uni. She’d also just met a new boyfriend who she thought I might approve of for a change.
On that fateful day she went clubbing with 15 of her uni friends – they thought they’d have a better time if they took a wee pill. In the club Lorna started making no sense, she collapsed and her friends realized what had happened.
She was taken, unconscious, to Addenbrooks Hospital, where the staff tried very hard to stop the inevitable and were perplexed by what the tablet was doing to her body. One organ after another shut down until her last breath, 48 hours after she’d been admitted. I was by her side the whole time. My heart – and many others, including her brother and close friends – was broken forever that day.
Luckily, her friends were fine – they all came to her funeral in France, which was attended by 200 people. As I recall, the student who sold the drugs got a one year prison sentence. I did not attend the trial because I could not face seeing him.
At the time I so wanted her death not to be completely in vain, so my brother and I initiated an awareness campaign on the dangers of ecstasy across billboards all over London, as well as TV interviews and so on. I also did some talks at her school where I worked. I know for a fact that we did reach some kids. We received so many messages from young people, which made me happy as I know that’s what Lorna would have wanted.
However, as we know 14 years later, young people are still dying and nothing has changed to try to stop these deaths. My daughter was a perfectly normal, intelligent, loved teenager who may have still been alive today had the government moved the drugs discussion into the 21st century.
Before, our billboard campaign focused on telling young people to say no to drugs. But young people will always experiment – we need to try our best to protect them. Over time, we’ve realised that criminalising recreational drugs only increases the harms our children are exposed to – young people just don’t know what they’re going to get.
I support the work of Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control – and sincerely hope that someone in Westminster will move this debate forward quickly, in order to stop more beautiful young people dying unnecessarily.
This note was left on Lorna’s grave. I do not know who wrote it.