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  • Mum of tragic alcoholic launches petition calling for the price of strong cider to be increased

    Henry James

    A GRIEVING Skelmersdale mother whose son had become addicted to white cider and died last month from alcoholism has launched a petition to get the price of the drink increased.

    Joanne Handford’s son Kyle died while holding his mum’s hand on Thursday, August 9. He was just 31-years-old.

    Now Joanne is calling for the price of white cider to be increased to discourage others from being tempted to follow the same destructive path and has enlisted the support of West Lancs MP Rosie Cooper.

    Joanne told the Champion: “I can’t believe Kyle has gone. He was my only child and a lovely lad.

    “He would do anything for anyone, was selfless and had a beautiful character. And he was full of life and loved by his family and friends.”

    Sadly, Kyle also suffered with severe anxiety and agoraphobia and drank alcohol to give him the courage to go outside, answer his phone or front door or just to go to the shop.

    “His choice of drink was white cider - Frosty Jacks and White Lightning are a couple of the brands he drank. It only costs £4.50 for a three-litre bottle and it’s 7.5% proof, while other beers such as lager, are not as strong but cost around £3 for a single can containing less than half a litre.

    “As a result the people drawn to this cheap strong cider are often people on a low income or benefits.

    “I want the price of this white cider to be increased so the people who are easily addicted would have to choose a less-potent alternative.”

    Kyle had been drinking since he was about 16 and had mental health issues.

    Joanne said: “Before he was 18 I could get him help but after he became an adult he had to ask for help himself. He said he would but then wouldn’t answer his phone or turn up for meetings.

    Major issue

    “His partner did manage to get him into a hospital in Cardiff for a time which helped for a while, but when he came back home he started drinking again. He would try different drinks but would always go back to the white cider.

    “In Skelmersdale there is a lot of unemployment and many people drink white cider. I know others who have died from it.”

    Joanne has already collected more than 500 signatures but needs 10,000 for it to be heard in Parliament.

    Rosie Cooper said: “Each death as a result of alcohol is deeply upsetting and avoidable. The Government must do more to address this major issue.

    “I agree that being able to purchase three litres of 7.5% proof cider for under £5 is not acceptable and should be stopped immediately. That’s why I have supported an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to follow-up its drugs strategy by publishing a comprehensive alcohol strategy that includes a minimum unit pricing policy which will save lives and relieve pressure on the NHS.

    “I will be raising this issue with the ministers in Parliament, including those responsible for health and business, to encourage this policy to be introduced as a matter of urgency. The Government needs to act now. Every day wasted means more lives lost unnecessarily.

    “A further Early Day Motion in Parliament has called on the Government to bring forward a comprehensive alcohol strategy in the near future, including necessary investment in better education and support services, and to include a commitment that minimum unit pricing will be reviewed and consulted on as a policy when Public Health England reports on its scientific review into the impact following its recent introduction in Scotland.”

    Joanne’s petition can be found on the website www.change.org.

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