Belfast Telegraph

Bringing some hope out of horror

Editor's Viewpoint

To lose a child under any circumstances is possibly the worst fate that can befall a parent. To learn that the death was entirely preventable can only add to the pain and heartache. That is the devastation the families of 18-year-old friends Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson have felt for the past three years, since they were found poisoned by carbon monoxide due to faulty heaters in a seaside apartment on the north coast where they had gone with a friend to celebrate after receiving their A-level results.

The teenagers perished – their friend survived by almost a miracle – because of shoddy workmanship by a man who had worked on the gas heating. It took him three years to admit his guilt, obviously aware that the evidence against him was overwhelming.

That had further prolonged the agony of the boys' families, although they now feel they may at last get justice. Of course nothing can ever bring back their sons, bright boys and childhood friends, the sort of young men that this country needs to help build its future.

Their potential will never be realised and their parents' dreams for them turned to ashes on the fateful day that they found them slumped in the apartment. Yet, as so often happens, the two families did not wallow aimlessly in their grief, profound as it was.

Instead they were determined to ensure other families would not suffer as they had.

They didn't simply call for action, but decided to take it themselves.

They set up a charity to alert the community to carbon monoxide, the silent killer that took their sons, and urged regular checking of heating appliances and systems and the installation of warning devices which can detect the odourless and colourless gas.

We will never know if their campaign helped save lives, but they have tried. For that they deserve our gratitude as well as our admiration that they would attempt to find something positive from their own personal nightmares.

Belfast Telegraph

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