Sally was an amazing person and a wonderful sister, daughter, and auntie. Sally really was adored in our family. She left home when she was really little but she used to come back every single week on Sunday.
Growing up Sunday was Sally’s day. We would fetch her early and spend the whole day with aunties, uncles, cousins and friends, either at home, aunties homes or days out, picnics on the Malvern Hills, river boat rides or visitor attractions locally. This was never a chore for Terry and I. We looked forward to spending time with Sally and the days were always filled with fun.
Sally was the apple of our Dad’s eye. He would sometimes get emotional when we took her back to Sunfield or Lea Castle. She was always included in every family celebration, birthday parties Christmas, and would be absolutely excited at the mere mention of the Easter bunny.
She loved music and dancing, Mum and Dad would buy CD players and endless pile of CDs, mostly rock and roll. She loved it but her favourite song was ‘I like it I like it’ by Gerry and the Pacemakers.
There was always music on a Sunday afternoon. Regular dancing round the living room and the highlight for Sal was always the party tea where you had to be quick with the fondant fancies or she’d demolish them all. They were her absolute favourites.
We have fought and struggled as a family for nearly six years to try and find out the truth of what happened to Sally. She was a beautiful person who brought joy and a love of life everywhere she went. Sally died unnecessarily because those who were meant to keep her safe decided to stop doing basic checks to ensure she was well. It has been heart-breaking listening to it at all, because the evidence has been much much worse than we could have expected even after six years of reading it on paper. The only relief has been that someone – the Coroner – has listened and ensured that we now know how badly Sally was failed and neglected.
When we first started trying to get answers about Sally, it took three years and a new Coroner for an inquest to even be opened. There are many other families who lose their loved ones with learning disabilities who never get this far and so many more learning disabled people who pass away and don’t have a sister or someone else to fight their corner after they’re gone. Even having now got answers about Sally’s tragic death, we cannot help but think of all the other deaths which happened before Sally died and those over the last six years which could have been prevented.
If the changes implemented since Sally died save one life, even though Sally can never come back to us, the fight will have been worth it. We are finally able to grieve.