Belfast Telegraph

Mothers of Castlerock gas victims put their hearts into campaign

By Heather McGarrigle

“Every day it gets more difficult. The pain is still as raw as if it happened yesterday.”

Katrina Davidson spoke to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday about the agony of losing her 18-year-old son Aaron in August’s carbon monoxide poisoning tragedy in Castlerock.

The teenager died, along with best friend Neil McFerran, also 18, on August 3.

Their friend Matthew Gaw survived and is still recovering from the incident.

The grief has not subsided, but the boys’ mothers say that focusing on carbon monoxide awareness campaigning has provided “a comfort and a strength”.

The two women spoke at yesterday’s launch of the Watch Out! Carbon Monoxide Kills campaign at Stormont.

Her voice choked with emotion, Catherine McFerran described her son Neil as “the sort of young person we hear so little about in today’s world”.

Neil served three years as a fire cadet and, in his mother’s words, he “wanted to make a difference in his community”.

Mrs McFerran said she now drew strength by working to “help his memory make a difference”.

Katrina described the two families as being “joined together by the pain of bereavement; a pain that reaches the deepest parts of the heart”, but said the outpouring of public support following the tragedy had kept them going.

She said: “People from all over Northern Ireland, from all walks of life, have shown tremendous sympathy and love to us since August 3.

“I want those kind people to think of their own families now and listen to this awareness campaign.”

Mrs Davidson explained how campaign work was helping the bereaved families to cope, giving an outlet for their feelings and keeping their minds occupied.

“It gives us something to focus on.

“We think that if something good comes out of it, if it saves somebody else’s life, then this is going to be worthwhile. We don’t want any other family to lose a son, a grandchild, anybody else.”

Catherine agreed that working to raise awareness provided her family with some much-needed positivity.

“I feel proud today. I feel grief, but I also feel pride because Neil was a young man who cared about people and he would have wanted me to stand here and launch this awareness campaign.”

Belfast Telegraph

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