The heartbroken parents of Connor Brown are launching a trust in his memory in a bid to stop knife crime and help families torn apart by it.
Simon and Tanya Brown are hoping to launch The Connor Brown Trust in March 2021 sometime around what would have been Connor’s 21st birthday.
The family had hoped to launch the trust in April this year but due to the coronavirus pandemic, their plans were put on hold.
Connor, 18, suffered fatal stab wounds after he was attacked in an alleyway near Sunderland’s Gatsby’s pub in February last year.
Leighton Barrass, 20, was jailed for a minimum of 20 years for murder while Ally Gordon, also 20, was sentenced to three and a half years for manslaughter, with a bid to have his sentence increased failing just a few weeks ago.
Now a trust set up in Connor’s name will help fund work to prevent knife crime in the community by providing opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to steer them away from criminal activity.
As well as prevention, the trust will also support victims of violent crimes and their families and raise awareness about the dangers of carrying or using a knife.
Tanya said: “Through the Connor Brown Trust, we want to support young people and their families, in particular, those from disadvantaged backgrounds that would benefit from access to additional opportunities that would prevent them steering towards crime and violence and engaging in criminal activities, we want to support them in becoming more positive members of society.
“We also want to support victims and their families of violent crimes. Our main focus will always be raising awareness surrounding knife crime and the devastation it causes, we want our younger generation to understand how criminal activity can affect themselves and the wider public.
“The impact Connor had made to so many people’s lives in so many different ways, people who met Connor will always remember him but for those who knew Connor, they will always love him.
“If others remember Connor or hear his story and what happened to him then they themselves might think twice about carrying or using a knife and that is the most important outcome I could hope for.”
Lockdown has been a particularly difficult time for the Browns who have been unable to see family and friends due to the pandemic.
They have also suffered another devastating loss with Simon’s mum tragically passing away after contracting Covid-19.
Tanya continued: “Lockdown has not been the easiest time for us, we had so much support from family and friends then all contact stopped because of the virus.
“We suffered more heartache losing Simon’s mum to the virus which was really difficult as we were not allowed to visit her when she was poorly.
“I had my own personal one-to-one therapy sessions cancelled and found it hard to access any professional support.
“I did find a local group once restrictions eased, Sunderland Grieving Parents Group, which is a group set up by parents who have lost their own children, we all help and support each other and has really helped me a lot.”
Tanya has opened up about suffering from flashbacks 19 months on from Connor’s death and said losing a child in these circumstances is “nothing but devastation and heartache”.
She said: “These past 19 months have been the hardest we’ve ever had to endure, the pain of losing your child and in circumstances like ours is nothing but devastation and utter heartache every day.
“I suffer from flashbacks of those first few days and weeks and 19 months on it certainly has not become any easier for any of us.
“Some say time heals but for us, it is simply a painful reminder of how long Connor has been gone.
“I have gone through so much turmoil and asked myself ‘what if’ and ‘why’ so many times but it doesn’t change anything.
“Connor is such a miss by everyone and he has a stream of visitors at his graveside, it is always full of fresh flowers and little keepsakes left by family and friends and it brings a little comfort knowing that they all visit too.
“We are currently in the process of having a memorial bench placed at Grangetown cemetery near to Connor’s resting place which we hope his visitors will gain some comfort from and be able to reflect on happier memories.”
You can keep up to date on the Trust through the Facebook page here.