In May 2019, 15-year-old Leah met up with a group of friends in a car park in her hometown of Northallerton.
Connor, who was 17 years old, supplied Leah with MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, a Class A drug. After taking the drug Leah collapsed and died. Connor was charged with supplying drugs and was sent to prison.
After the trial, Leah’s mother Kerry and Connor’s mother Tammy were introduced to each other through a restorative justice scheme, which brings those harmed by crime and those responsible for the harm into contact with each other with a view to finding a positive way forward.
As Kerry and Tammy talked, they were able to understand each other’s situation.
Kerry realised that they had both lost something. Tammy knew her son was involved with drug gangs and had tried, without success, to get help for him, including reporting him to the police.
She felt a deep guilt and shame over Leah’s death. Kerry told Tammy that Leah was her ‘best friend’ and that she felt ‘a lot of hatred’ about how she had died.
Following their meeting Kerry and Tammy decided to launch a campaign, ‘Do You Know MDMA?’, to get the message out that drugs kill.
Kerry says, ‘People will look at us and think it’s an unlikely friendship. They will see us as two separate people, but we are both grieving.
‘They are both our children. I feel if we can tell our story we can try to educate people. Leah died and I can’t let that be for no reason.’
Many people have been deeply moved by Kerry and Tammy’s story and pray that because of their campaign other young people will not die from taking drugs.
Reconciliation is a powerful thing and is at the heart of the Bible’s message.
All of us have sinned and rebelled against God, but through his Son Jesus Christ God has at great cost provided the way of reconciliation.
The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).
Peter Milsom is an elder at St Mellons Baptist Church, Cardiff, and Chairman of Associating Evangelical Churches of Wales.