North Tyneside mum fighting for change following daughter's death after drinking cheap cider

Megan Craig-Wilkinson died on New Year's Day 2014. Credit: Family photo

The mother of a teenager who died after drinking alcohol has vowed to keep on campaigning for a change in the law, ten years after her daughter's death.

Joanne Good, from Dudley, on North Tyneside, said she feels deflated that little has changed since her 16-year-old daughter Megan Craig-Wilkinson died from dry drowning after drinking a litre-and-a-half of cider at a New Year's Eve party.

A decade on from Megan's death on 1 January 2014, Joanne is continuing her fight for a minimum price per unit of alcohol to be introduced.

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Speaking to ITV Tyne Tees, the grieving mum said: "I remember doing my first campaign and thinking this is going to change it, what happened to Megan, that's going to do something about it. But it hasn't, so I'll just keep going.

"I want things to change, I want things to change for our children, for our young people, for our vulnerable people and that's why I'll do it and I'll continue to do it until someone sits up and listens."

Megan, who attended a New Year's Eve party with friends, had drunk alcohol before but was not a big drinker.

Bottles of cheap cider were there and she drank around a litre-and-a-half through the evening.

Later she got a taxi home and chatted to her mum, climbed the stairs and went to bed.

Ms Good even propped her daughter in the recovery position for fear she might choke but when she woke on New Year's Day, Megan was dead.

"As soon as I touched her arm, I knew.  I screamed, everyone ran upstairs and that's when the nightmare started," she added.

Megan Craig-Wilkinson died after drinking a litre and a half of cider. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"She pulmonary aspirated in her sleep, so that means the stomach contents entered her lungs, the little capillaries. That could have happened when she was still awake after she'd been sick or it could have happened in her sleep, we don't know."

Joanne believes her daughter would still be here if she had not drunk alcohol.

She has spent much of the past decade campaigning for action to reduce alcohol deaths with little change.

Between 2012 and 2019 the rates of alcohol-specific deaths in the UK remained stable.

Then it jumped by 27.4% from 2019 to 2021 - the highest level since records began in 2001.

Ms Good has been campaigning with Balance, the North East of England’s alcohol prevention programme.

Susan Taylor, head of alcohol policy at Balance, believes the country is on the "cusp of an alcohol crisis" and has criticised what she calls the Government's "inaction".

"We now have record levels of alcohol deaths, we've got the highest rate of alcohol related hospital admissions in this region," she added.

She is calling for "action now to turn the tide and try and save lives in the future".

Speaking as she looked at photographs of Megan, Ms Good said: "She's missed so much and every good thing that happens in our lives as a family, it's always hurt as well. It's really difficult to be happy about something without her being there to see it."

Minimum unit pricing has been introduced by the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

In Scotland, the policy led to a 3% fall in alcohol sales over the first three years, a 13% reduction in deaths and a 4% drop in hospitalisations.

The UK Government announced plans to introduce minimum pricing in its Alcohol Strategy of 2012 but that hasn't yet happened.

A Home Office spokesperson told ITV Tyne Tees: "We maintain an interest in the implementation of minimum unit pricing and its impact on alcohol-related harms and are monitoring emerging evidence with interest."

They added: “The government has already taken measures to tackle alcohol consumption through banning sales of alcohol below the level of duty plus VAT, and by introducing a comprehensive set of reforms to alcohol duty which taxes products in proportion to their alcohol content.” 

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