Grieving mum calls for change after son's white cider death

The mum of a Wigan man who died last month after becoming addicted to white cider is calling for a price hike on the 'lethal' substance to help save the lives of others.

Friday, 7th September 2018, 2:20 pm
Updated Friday, 7th September 2018, 3:36 pm
Kyle Brown

Joanne Handford, 51, has launched a petition asking the Government to review the prices of white cider such as “Frosty Jack’s” and “White Lightning”, after her son suffered from fits and vomited blood before dying of liver failure aged just 31.

Kyle Brown, from Up Holland, turned to alcohol at the age of 16 to battle his crippling agoraphobia.

“He drank to give himself courage,” said Joanne. “I did try to help him.

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“A therapist gave him distraction techniques to try and get him out of the house, but once he turned 18 I couldn’t do anything to stop him from drinking.

“The problem with white cider is that it’s cheap - and it is lethal.”

On average, white cider costs around £4.50 for three litres and the alcohol content sits at around 7.5 per cent. While in contrast, strong beers with a similar proof can cost up to £3 a can.

“Young people drink it,” Joanne added. “They get it with their pocket money and get people to go into the shop for them.

“The people drinking this cheap strong cider are people on a low income or benefits, people who can’t afford other types of alcohol.

“White cider is made by using the left over pulp from apples that is sometimes fed to livestock.

“It has so many chemicals in its ingredients - I doubt it has ever even seen an apple.”

Kyle, who was never able to work due to his mental health problems, slowly deteriorated for a decade leading up to his death.

His terrified mum was forced to watch as her son began vomiting blood and suffering from seizures.

By his 31st birthday Kyle had been told that he was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and that he was risking his life by continuing to drink.

“I don’t think he truly understood how addicted he was,” said his mum.

“He ended up in hospital once but he flatly refused to go in again for help.

“Over time his fits became more regular and he was vomiting blood.

“We called the emergency services for him and they would stay with him and plead for him to go in.

“We made appointments for him as well but he wouldn’t go at all.”

In a desperate attempt to help her son, Joanne pleaded with mental health professionals to have him sectioned, but was told that this would not be possible as Kyle was of “sound mind”.

“I did a lot of grieving for Kyle while he was still alive,” she said.

“I knew what was happening. I pleaded with him to get help.”

Kyle was living at home with his mum when he died on August 9 this year.

Since his death, Joanne has been campaigning for the Government to increase the price of white cider to make it more difficult for people on a low income to purchase.

“I don’t understand why it is so cheap when it is so destructive,” she added. “A lot of people in Skelmersdale where I live are out of work or on benefits.

“They buy the cheapest alcohol they can find for the quickest buzz.

Joanne’s petition has already gained hundreds of signatures.