The Acorn Service 2017

1 October 2017 Posted by

Saturday 23 September 2017 saw the fourth consecutive service with this year being the third to be held at Truro Cathedral. The service seeks to celebrate the lives of those who have died from substance misuse and those who live with it.

Last year in Cornwall there were 32 drug related deaths and many more when alcohol and prescription drugs are considered. The stigma often attached to drug-related deaths can leave those mourning feeling different from other mourners, with the special Acorn service providing a way to bring people together.

The service is organised in partnership between Cornwall Council, Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT), Boscence Farm Community Ltd, Addaction and Truro Cathedral.

The service included personal reflections, music and readings from service users and drug treatment workers, a tailored service of remembrance and a tree of remembrance where messages were written on paper shaped oak leaves. We now have 4 years worth of oak leaves that have been personalised. The cruel irony here is that at this time of year the oak loses its’ leaves- the tree in our service always gains leaves.

The tree of remembrance from 2015- it now bears many more leaves representing lives lost

This years’ service was well attended and the emotion of the occasion was very much in evidence with one mother saying ‘I haven’t been able to cry like this since my 20 year old daughter died earlier this year’.

This brave mother came to the service after hearing another mother speaking on Radio Cornwall the previous day when Laurence Reed held his live talk show. Laurence has been very supportive of this service over the last 4 years and Sid Willett from Cornwall DAAT was able to go into the studio with Kirsty to speak about the loss of her daughter Victoria aged just 21 when she died last year.

Victoria died aged just 21

Victoria is just one example of a life tragically cut short when she naively combined internet sourced drugs with GP prescribed medicines. Both of these mothers want to help others and raise awareness of the complexities of drug related deaths.

Gary Hales used heroin for six years and is now celebrating his 5th-year of not using Heroin. In that 5 years he’s completed a diploma and a degree as well as working with Addaction as a volunteer and now a full employee. Gary gave a reading during the service.

He said “I’ve made some bad decisions in my life however, I am very fortunate to be in a position where I can share my experiences. My curiosity and naivety to drugs is what started my addiction – two deadly behaviours when combined and there are drugs around.

“I lost six years of my life to a heroin addiction. I am the lucky one as others I’ve witnessed lost their lives. I spent years chasing the dragon when I could have been chasing my dreams and aspirations. Eventually, I became a lost soul and on many occasions wished I would never wake up however, chasing death, led me to life.

Sid Willett, Drug Related Death Prevention Co-ordinator, Cornwall Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) said “I am proud to work in Cornwall with so many people that care about these issues and our communication between Police, drug treatment, pharmacy, HM Coroner and her staff, RCHT, SWAST and many others is second to none. The DAAT now being part of Community Safety within Cornwall Council allows us an even wider platform to prevent future deaths.

This is a different approach to what is usually expected, as we seek to remember and to raise awareness at the same time. Our work is all about partnership working often with marginalised groups. Although sadly too late for some, the Acorn service seeks to remember, reflect and use the legacy of those who have died to change processes or whatever needs to be done to prevent future deaths.”

About the Author

Simon, Research & Information Officer, Amethyst, Community Safety Team

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