When the telephone rang in her hotel room at 4.30am, Pat Rogers instinctively knew something was wrong. It was the first night of a two-week holiday in Malta for Pat and her husband David. But everything changed in an instant when the voice on the other end of the line told them their 24-year-old son Adam had been taken to hospital suffering from serious head injuries.
Pat (62) says: “The call was from our youngest son Jamie. He said Adam had been attacked during a night out in our home town of Blackburn and was in a bad way. A doctor then came on the line, saying Adam had serious brain injuries, and we should come home. I went into shock.”
Hours earlier Adam had driven his parents to the airport. “I could still remember him smiling and wishing us a good holiday,” says Pat. “Now he was in hospital, it was the middle of the night, and we were thousands of miles away in a foreign country. I just wanted to be with my son.”
Pat and David flew home later that morning and went straight to the hospital. There doctors told them that due to the severity of Adam’s injuries it was unlikely he would survive. “When we saw Adam, it was as if he was sleeping,” says Pat. “He had a tube in his mouth, but looked very peaceful. I remember urging him to wake up and thinking this was all a terrible dream. The medical team carried out two brain stem tests, but neither showed any activity. That afternoon we were told that Adam was clinically dead. It was the most surreal feeling. We were devastated, and didn’t know what to do.
'I remember urging him to wake up and thinking this was all a terrible dream'
“Adam was such a lovely young man – affectionate and fun, with the most caring nature. His work as a sports coach meant he had always been fit and healthy. It was heartbreaking for us to hear that he wouldn’t recover.”
Later Pat and David learned more about what had happened the previous evening, and realised that Adam was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had been trying to keep a young man away from the area where a friend was being attacked, but the youngster took exception to Adam’s attempts to act as peacemaker, and hit him in the face. The punch was so hard it knocked Adam out before he hit the ground and – unable to break his fall – fatal damage occurred when his head hit the concrete. “It was a senseless attack, fuelled by alcohol,” says Pat. “Everything happened very fast, but the outcome was long lasting, and changed our lives for ever.
“Saying goodbye to Adam was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. He wanted to be an organ donor, so we gave permission for his heart, lungs, liver, kidney and pancreas to be donated. Our pain was raw, but there was some comfort in knowing that Adam’s organs would help others. Later we met the man who received Adam’s kidney and pancreas. He’s been able to become a father because of the transplant, so we feel that Adam lives on through him and his family.”
Although Pat and David knew their lives would never be the same, they decided that some good had to come from losing Adam. Instead of feeling bitter, and letting what had happened destroy them, they set up Every Action Has Consequences – a self-funded charity that helps and informs young people about the futility of violence.
The aim is to advance the education of the public (particularly the under 25s), on the dangers of violence and the serious consequences of it, and promote learning about individual responsibilities.Pat and David give talks in prisons and schools, and have produced an education pack containing a DVD telling Adam’s story. To date 3,500 of these have been distributed to schools throughout England, with each viewed by around 1,000 youngsters.
'Knowing that Adam's story is reaching people and changing their behaviour helps me'
“We are highlighting the consequences of anti-social and violent behaviour for victims and those who carry out violent acts. We’re trying to get the message across that people should stop and think before lashing out, and also highlight how alcohol-induced violent acts destroy families,” says Pat. “It’s not easy because we have to continually re-live what happened to Adam. But when we receive feedback from young people who walked away from a confrontational situation after hearing Adam’s story, it drives us to continue.
“I hope one day every school in Britain will have an education pack, and youngsters will realise they can have a good night out without getting drunk and resorting to violence. That culture has to end. My life changed the day Adam died, and nothing will ever be the same for our family. But knowing that his story is reaching people and changing their behaviour for the better helps me. If our charity saves just one life, then all of our work will have been extremely worthwhile.”
- If you would like to make a donation, receive an education pack, or find out more about Every Action Has Consequences visit www.eahconsequences.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photograph © UNP