Over the past few months, I have been working with the Oxfordshire Community Foundation to establish my charitable fund, What Martha Did Next.
I am a single parent, and my only child, Martha Fernback, died on 20th July 2013 (aged 15) after swallowing half a gram of MDMA powder (more widely known as ecstasy). I started writing 5,742 Days: A Mother’s Journey Through Loss within hours of Martha’s death. It depicts a real-time account of the first 102 days without my precious daughter – despite it being tragic, it also highlights how we can find strength from nowhere and positivity and determination to survive in order to still find meaning in our lives.
This strange journey has opened many doors for me that would have otherwise remained firmly closed. I’ve had lunch at the House of Lords and been invited on various TV and radio stations – but what a high price I’ve paid for this privilege. Regardless of how nerve-wracking I find public speaking and live media interviews, I am much more terrified of any other parent ever knowing how it feels to be me.
I am planning various community-based initiatives to engage with young people in particular, and to start a two-way dialogue in order to highlight the various prejudices and challenges that exist within a modern society. Most of us remember the sensitive and challenging transition from childhood into adulthood, and how frustrated we felt when our points of view were ignored or disregarded.
Modern teenagers need a voice and to feel that they are really being heard. This in turn will help nurture and shape an empathetic and compassionate society which we will all benefit from.
Anne-Marie Cockburn (Martha’s mum)
Anne-Marie is currently welcoming invites from schools, rehabilitation centres, prisons and other relevant institutions, enabling me to continue raising awareness via:
· Focus groups – Using her book 5,742 Days as the basis for discussion, providing a unique and invaluable insight
· Guest speaking – Anne-Marie's story may be difficult for many of us to hear, but her honesty and down-to-earth approach enables audiences to connect with her fully
· Community-based initiatives – Including self-esteem, peer-to-peer counselling, how to reduce harm in a modern society, welfare, and desensitisation of drugs
· All secondary school libraries stocking her book – A valuable resource from a viewpoint we rarely get to witness
Visit Anne-Marie's website for regular updates about her work:www.whatmarthadidnext.org