Bereaved mum wins 999 control room award

A MOTHER whose teenage son was stabbed to death has won an award for her bravery in taking a stand against knife crime.

Amanda Cassidy has made a film for London Ambulance Service urging youngsters to stop carrying knives.

The 54-year-old started working as a 999 call handler for the service after her eldest son Greg was killed.

She said: “After that I needed something more from my life. I needed to do something to make a difference; and the job we do – we save people’s lives.”

When Amanda started in the call centre 15 years ago, calls to stabbings were scarce. Now she says they are a daily occurrence.

Amanda, from west London, said: “It’s just too much: it’s too much that parents are having to go through what I went through by losing a child – because of knife crime.

London Ambulance Service’s public education team is showing the film in schools to try to persuade children not to carry knives.

 

 

In the film, Amanda makes a direct appeal to young people, saying, “Pick up your phone, pick up your keys, pick up your money but leave the knife at home.

“If you’ve got a knife in your hand you’re going to use it and you’re going to be taking someone’s life away.

“Or, you’re going to end up dead yourself and your parents are going to have to go through what I went through. It’s got to stop.”

In 2018 paramedics from the London Ambulance Service talked to around 8,500 young people at 68 events throughout the capital, to tell them about the consequences of carrying knives.

The team – which also runs sessions on road safety and careers advice – frequently work alongside the police, courts and prison service to engage with young offenders or those at risk of offending.

Amanda has been presented with the APD Control Room Award 2019 for services to the public.

Margaret Luce, head of public education, said: “Amanda was very courageous in coming forward to tell her story.  It is very powerful to hear first-hand about her experience and we hope that, by making the film, we will help to make a difference.”

Greg had just started training as a chef when he went to visit friends and family in the north. That night, Amanda got a phone call from a nurse.

She said: “We got a call saying he had been stabbed and was at hospital. By the time we got there, he had died. It was a single stab wound to the chest.

“He’s never going to get married, he’s never going to drive a car, he will never have children. He died before his life started.

“It’s just all been taken away from him; you bring a child into the world and you’re there to look after them all your life.

“You should never have to bury your own children, not through something so stupid, so avoidable.”

Greg was 18 when he died.

Almost exactly a year later she got a job with London Ambulance Service. She started taking calls and is now responsible for dispatching ambulances to emergencies across London. She admits her colleagues in the control room have helped her get through the dark times.

She added: “I love my job. I love the people I work with. We’re a big team that look out for each other. I enjoy what I do and I think I make a difference, and we save people’s lives.”