Ben Rhydding teenager Joe's tragic death to help drugs campaign

Wharfedale Observer: Joe Preston of Ben Rhydding Joe Preston of Ben Rhydding

A woman who set up a charity to warn children about the dangers of taking drugs in the wake of her daughter’s death said she will use the tragic story of a teenager who died earlier this month as a warning to others.

Joe Preston (pictured right), of Ben Rhydding, Ilkley, died from a suspected ecstasy overdose after a night out in Leeds. His family said they hoped people would read about the 17-year-old and learn lessons.

Now his story will be shared with teenagers in schools across West Yorkshire as campaigner Pat Bleau continues her work to raise awareness.

Mrs Bleau, 59, was recognised for her tireless campaigning following the death in 1997 of 16-year-old Chantelle, who died after sniffing lighter fluid while babysitting, in the New Year Honours list and awarded an MBE which she collected on Tuesday at Buckingham Palace.

Mrs Bleau, of Horton Bank Top, set up the Chantelle Bleau Memorial Fund to educate children about the dangers of legal and illegal highs. She said: “We started by doing that, but now we talk about all drugs – ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, and other things as well such as bullying.”

At the beginning of March, the fund had a campaign week where it delivered 70 lessons to children across West Yorkshire. Usually it delivers about three classes a week and also supports teachers.

Mrs Bleau said showing children a video of her daughter helped to drive home the message about the dangers of drugs.

“People respond to Chantelle when they see her singing on a video. She’s a real person and I’m on the video with her and they can see that,” she said.

The foster carer also intends to share the story of Joe in a similar way. She said she was moved by his story and intends to use it to demonstrate how drugs can affect anyone.

The fund also teaches teenagers what to do if they are with somebody who has taken drugs and becomes ill and advises them how to help friends address drug addiction.

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