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Drugs: ‘Don’t end up like Martha’
THE grieving mother of Martha Fernback has warned about the dangers of drugs as 300 people marked what would have been the girl’s 16th birthday.
The Cherwell School pupil, from Summertown, collapsed in Oxford’s Hinksey Park in July after taking what police say she thought was Ecstasy.
Her mum Anne-Marie Cockburn, 42, joined school friends as they floated 16 water lanterns on Hinksey Lake at 6.41am on Wednesday, the time she was born.
“Martha’s death has shown her friends the dangers,” she said.
“That is a good thing if it has scared the other children from even trying it: it’s just a shame that is my legacy.
“Children can get drugs more easily than you can get alcohol, even when they’re good kids. Schoolchildren know where to get it and who to get it from.”
But as well as telling young people to stay off drugs, she said there needed to be more education about drugs for those who still decided they wanted to take them.
“I didn’t want my child dabbling but if you know they are, you want them to be properly educated,” she said.
“What has happened is not good enough. We’re closing our eyes and putting our fingers in our ears.
“Schools are limited and nobody knows what to do about the subject.”
Police and paramedics were called to the park off Lake Street, South Oxford, on July 20 after she suffered a cardiac arrest.
She was airlifted to the John Radcliffe Hospital where she later died.
Now Miss Cockburn is writing a book to help her cope and is considering publishing a title called 5,472 Days, the number of days Martha lived.
She said: “She was my only child, so it is about trying to found your way back.
“I got the call saying ‘your daughter is gravely ill’, and I knew she was at Hinksey Lakes so I thought it was something to do with the water.
“Her last words to me were that she wanted to go for a swim, because she was very hot.
“I started writing the day I got that call.”
Miss Cockburn also threw a party at Freuds in Jericho for her daughter.
And friends who came along said Martha’s death had put them off ever taking drugs.
Cherwell school friend Vicky Zetterstrom-Sharp, 15, said: “No-one really takes drugs or would ever think about taking it now because of what happened.
“It is really disrespectful if anyone does.
“I think people are more aware of what the consequences are because you can never trust what it is.”
At the party to commemorate Martha, home movies and photo slideshows ran on a screen before friends spoke about their memories of her.
Olivia Wittet, 17, said: “It is so nice to celebrate with everyone who loved her.
“It has been three months already. It has gone so fast.
“It happened three days before the start of the summer holidays and I think it really hit people when school started and she wasn’t there.”
All her friends agreed their school classes are much quieter without her.
Another Cherwell student, Caitlin Carrick-Varty, 15, who sang a song at the event, said: “I was so caught up in all the expectations that you have to show you’re upset and cry until I realised you deal with it your own way.
“It is really difficult, because someone who has been there day in, day out is suddenly gone. It is scary.”
Home movies and photo slideshows ran on a screen before friends spoke about their memories of her.
Photos of Martha modelling in various poses were taken by her photographer friend Bella Kotak.
Ms Kotak said: “She was really sweet and amazing. Martha always had a lot of fun and was up for anything I needed her to do.
“I would say ‘jump in that water’ and she would say ‘OK’.”
An inquest is due to be held into her death at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court at a future date.
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