What Martha did next is a named fund created in memory of Martha Fernback, who died after swallowing half a gram of MDMA, also known as ecstasy. Martha’s mum Anne-Marie Cockburn works with Oxfordshire Community Foundation to champion initiatives that raise awareness of the fallout of drug misuse.
Anne-Marie Cockburn found her life devastated when her 15-year-old daughter Martha died of a heart attack after taking a small amount of extremely pure MDMA with friends in a North Oxford park.
Anne-Marie’s response to this tragedy is unusual. She does not harbour hatred towards the individual who dealt the drugs that killed her daughter – but instead articulates her conviction that the lack of awareness and the illegal status of drugs are what led to Martha’s death. “Being a bereaved single parent is the worst job in the world,” says Anne-Marie. “But the skills I obtained as a single parent ironically also gave me the immense strength I now need in order to be part of the sensible dialogue for change.”
Anne-Marie has been working with Oxfordshire Community Foundation since shortly after she lost her daughter. By setting up a named fund in Martha’s memory, she has been able to quickly and easily direct the donations she received into a fund that can be used to bring about some good from her situation. “I am planning various community-based initiatives that will highlight the prejudices and challenges that exist within a modern society,” says Anne-Marie.
Anne-Marie channelled her grief into writing her gut-wrenching memoir 5,742 Days – a real-time account of the days and months following Martha’s death. She now works with OCF to use the book and her personal experience to campaign for the legalisation of drugs, and to challenge parents and teenagers to talk openly about drug use, with 10% of the book’s profits going to her named fund. Anne-Marie says: “Regardless of how nerve-wracking I find public speaking and live media interviews, I am much more terrified of any other parent ever knowing how it feels to be me.”
“Modern teenagers need a voice and to feel that they are really being heard. This in turn will help nurture and shape an empathetic and compassionate society which we will all benefit from.”
What Martha Did Next
- In-memoriam ‘charity-in-a-box’ aiming to engage young people in a more productive dialogue about drugs
- Drug misuse
- Rehabilitation and self-esteem programmes
- Restorative justice
- Simple and quick way to set up a mechanism for donations in memory of a loved one
- Support and networking with local community groups with the same aims