Picnic in park celebrates last day mum had with Martha Fernback

Tears and hugs: Anne-Marie Cockburn comforts Maisy Summers, a former schoolfriend of Martha Fernback, at Hinksey Park as she arrives to lay flowers a year after Martha’s death during the picnic held in her memory

Tears and hugs: Anne-Marie Cockburn comforts Maisy Summers, a former schoolfriend of Martha Fernback, at Hinksey Park as she arrives to lay flowers a year after Martha’s death during the picnic held in her memory

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The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

IT was the last day Anne-Marie Cockburn spent with daughter Martha Fernback, 15, before she died after taking half a gram of ecstasy.

For Anne-Marie Cockburn, 43, July 19 will always be a special day and to mark its first anniversary a picnic was held in Martha’s memory on Saturday.

The Oxford Times:

  • A tragic loss: Martha Fernback

The Hinksey Lake gathering was also an opportunity for the Summertown resident to campaign and raise awareness about drug use.

Copies of her book about her daughter, called 5,742 Days, were left in public places around the city.

The Cherwell School pupil collapsed in Hinksey Park on July 20 last year after taking half a gram of crystallised MDMA, or ecstasy.

Forty friends, family and supporters of Miss Cockburn’s campaign to legalise controlled drugs attended the picnic.

She spent her last day with her teenage daughter, July 19, 2013, at Sandbanks beach in Poole, Dorset.

She said: “I wanted to celebrate our last day together in a positive way and to celebrate Martha’s life. It was a really nice event and the weather held up.”

She said: “It was very lovely and peaceful, there was a lovely atmosphere.

“The picnic was a very simple way of acknowledging the last day we spent together before she died.”

She said of her campaign: “It is about keeping a dialogue going and saying that Martha wasn’t a fictional character. This time last year she was still alive, and I will never be able to say that again.

The Oxford Times:

  • Poignant: Anne-Marie Cockburn reads her book about her daughter’s life at Hinksey Park

“But nothing has changed and there will be another me one day, probably quite soon with the festival season here, and that’s a terrible situation to be in.

“I would like all drugs to be legalised. That’s the only way you can regulate them, put a label on them and find out the ingredients.

“What Martha took was enough for between five and 10 people and had she known that she would probably still be here.

“I hope the book enables parents to have an open dialogue about this with their children.”

Maisy Summers, 16, went to St Aloysius Primary School with Martha but lost touch with her and the two had been arranging to meet up when she died.

The Larkmead School pupil said: “It was nice that people were there remembering her. When I walked around and saw everyone I just started crying because that’s where she spent her last moments and it was overwhelming.

“I think what happened to her was tragic. Martha was just really naive and didn’t get the second chance that most people get.”

Vanessa Fielding, a friend of Miss Cockburn, was one of the people who went to Hinksey Park to pay her respects.

The 42-year-old Summertown resident said: “It is incredibly hard to believe that a year has passed since she died.

“It was a very poignant event. I don’t really have any words for it. It was really important to remember Martha and celebrate her life.”

Martha was airlifted to the John Radcliffe Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

Alex Williams, of Sycamore Road, Botley, was given a community sentence in March after admitting one count of possessing MDMA and supplying it to a schoolgirl on July 17 last year.

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Comments (1)

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8:29am Mon 21 Jul 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

“What Martha took was enough for between five and 10 people and had she known that she would probably still be here"
Sadly these "products" don't quite work like that. Someone with a different metabolism could have ingested that quantity without harm and someone else have passed away on what might be considered " a single dose"
I'm not sure that we'd be well served by scientists researching "appropriate doses" of what are simply toxins, when there is so much research to be done on life-preserving drugs.
“What Martha took was enough for between five and 10 people and had she known that she would probably still be here" Sadly these "products" don't quite work like that. Someone with a different metabolism could have ingested that quantity without harm and someone else have passed away on what might be considered " a single dose" I'm not sure that we'd be well served by scientists researching "appropriate doses" of what are simply toxins, when there is so much research to be done on life-preserving drugs. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 5

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