South Tyneside trust's help for relatives of knife crime victims
Pat McDougall can vividly remember the last time she ever saw teenage grandson Glen Corner alive.
“It was his 16th birthday and he had come to see me with two of his friends for his birthday card, “ recalls Mrs McDougall.
“He left about 5pm and as usual he looked back on his bike and waved at me.
“I said ‘bye bye, flower, I love you’ and he said ‘love you’, back.”
Hours later, Glen, who had also received his GCSE results the same day and was determined to become an engineer, was stabbed twice in the chest in South Shields and left in a pool of blood by 18-year-old thug Lee Firman.
Mrs McDougall, who lives in nearby Jarrow, remembers: “We got a phone call late at night to say he had been stabbed. Me and my husband jumped into a taxi and went straight to hospital.
“There was a lot of relatives all sitting together waiting and then someone from the hospital walked in to say there was nothing they could do. It was horrendous.”
Firman, then of Thornholme Avenue, South Shields, later admitted murder at Newcastle Crown Court and was locked up for life with a minimum tariff of 16 years.
He had armed himself with two kitchen knives and launched his attack on August 25, 2006, in East Avenue, Harton, when Glen stuck up for a pal.
After friends helped fund a headstone for Glen, his grateful family wondered how they could repay the favour by supporting people suffering similar misfortune.
The Glen Corner Trust was formed the following year in memory of the former Harton Technology School pupil and in the decade since has helped families grieving 22 victims killed by weapons across the north.
Speaking after learning that pupils aged 12 or under have been caught in South Tyneside schools with knives, the retired shop assistant and factory worker says of the casualties: “They have been from South Shields, Washington, Sunderland and as far away as Liverpool.
“They are aged anywhere from 16 or 17 upwards with Victim Support usually providing them with our details.
“Sometimes it can be the cost of the funeral they need help with.
“Sometimes they just need someone to talk to who has experienced something similar.”
Speaking after learning that pupils aged 12 or under have been caught in South Tyneside schools with knives,
Aside from helping families after a death, the trust also visits schools to speak to children about the dangers of carrying knives and is planning an educational video.
Mrs McDougall adds: “We have also sponsored rugby clubs, football clubs and other sports clubs in the South Shields area.
“Anything worthwhile which will kelp keep kids off the streets.”
The community backs the trust’s efforts in return with scores of supporters raising vital funds by completing the Great North Run half marathon and Junior Great North Run on its behalf.
Mrs McDougall says: “We appreciate everyone’s support. We are here to help although, of course, we would rather we were not needed in the first place.
“Every time you help someone it brings all the horrendous pain back.
“It feels as if your heart has been ripped out. It is a rollercoaster that anyone it affects just cannot get off.”
The trust can be contacted via The Glen Corner Trust page on Facebook.