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Brave Bourne mum launches student mental health awareness campaign

A devastated Bourne mum is launching a campaign to highlight student mental health issues after her daughter of 21 tragically took her own life.

Brave Carole Fowkes, 50, is conquering her biggest fear by doing a charity skydive next month after her “beautiful” only child Alexandra killed herself in March. She was in her final year studying at Durham
University in March.

The amazing mother has since found the strength and motivation to launch her own fight to save lives as she battles to come to terms with her brilliant daughter’s heartbreaking suicide.

Tragic student Alexandra Wilshaw who took her own life
Tragic student Alexandra Wilshaw who took her own life

Married to Alexandra’s stepdad Steve, 49, tearful Carole, of Harvey Close, Bourne, said: “Alex’s death has devastated us and left a huge hole in our lives.

“As well as being my daughter she was my best friend.

“She was a beautiful young woman - and had the whole world at her feet.”

She added: “Now I want to do something to help other students who may be at risk.

“If I can help save one other life then it will be

Carole said Alexandra, who earned straight As in her A-levels at Bourne Grammar School, was in her final year studying maths at Durham University.

“She loved it and was doing well.

“Alex was a very clever girl who was also very popular, caring and compassionate,” she said.

“She hoped to teach in Africa after spending a year in Canada with her boyfriend Matt.

“Alex was always happy when she came home.

“We used to Facetime each other all the time and I never picked up any problems.

“But she started taking anti-depressants and was struggling more than we thought.

“Alex always appeared confident and was very sociable but clearly had anxiety problems.”

Carole, a technical audit manager at Orchard House Foods, Corby, said Alexandra’s boyfriend Matt found her hanged in her room in Durham one night in March. Carole is at a loss as to what could have led her beautiful daughter to that terrible moment. An inquest in Durham in July recorded a verdict of suicide.

Carole said: “More than 200 people packed Alex’s funeral service at Bourne Abbey.

“I’ve been inspired to launch Alexandra’s Awareness Campaign.

“I’m doing the skydive in Peterborough with three friends and hope to raise £2,000 for a charity set up in her name at Durham University.

“My worst fear is heights but I’m determined to do it for Alex,” said Carole.

“I also want to tour schools and universities talking to students about mental health issues.

“I’d urge parents to be more aware and vigilant and make sure your children really are OK.

“Tragically it’s too late for Alex but we must all do what we can to highlight the growing mental health crisis among students and schoolchildren.”

She appealed to people to go online to support the Durham University charity founded for Alexandra at: https://www.castlealumni.uk/news/2018/alexandra-s-awareness-campaign

Carole sets out in her own words on her mini-poster promoting her skydive how Alexandra’s shocking death has torn her apart:

“The last six months have been a rollercoaster of emotions trying to understand and come to terms with the loss, not a day passes I think what if and why? with birthdays and Christmas yet to bear.

“Alexandra was a kind, caring, considerate person always putting others first, even in death many of her organs were donored into helping improve other lives,” she says

“I cannot change events for my daughter.

“But I can help support and understand those other students who feel the same and give Alexandra’s name a sense in the circles of her short life that she loved so very much.”

She will be tackling the 3000ft parachute jump with three of her closest friends - Una Dauske, Cassandra Swinden and Sandra Cavalier.

“Please help us raise awareness for students who are in a dark place so we can help prevent this happening again and give the support to students that need it,” said Carole.

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