Thursday, 21 July 2011

On the death of Clare Bromley July 2011


I was saddened to hear of the death of Clare Bromley reported in the Post and Times last week. I had read of her plight. And I saw her shortly after Christmas. It had been snowing and the temperature was below freezing that morning by the Nicholson Memorial. Clare was poorly dressed for the Arctic conditions. A thin coat, misshapen tracksuit bottoms and very dilapidated pair of trainers were no protection against the intense cold. She was shivering violently. She asked me for change and I gave her what I had. Clare said that she intended using it to buy a coffee in a warm café by the bus station.

I have no idea whether she did that or whether it went on alcohol. That was the only time I saw her and it proved to be the last. From reading the account of her life in the paper it seemed to be a cheerless life a broken childhood, addiction to alcohol and the depressing carousel of regular court appearances, eviction, homelessness, begging leading to further court appearances. I hope in all this she found some happiness. Realisation that she needed to break out of this hopeless cycle is apparent from the October article but sadly it was not to be. I am sure that the authorities, the Police, Salvation Army and other others did their best but is likely that she was unable to change her situation.

It led to the lonely and unnoticed death reported last week. Of course her fate is not unique.

Excessive alcohol use kills around 20,000 people each year. Liver disease is predicted to be the greatest single killer within the next decade. And the annual bill of £3 billion to the NHS is significantly higher than previous estimates. It would cover more than 170,000 kidney transplants, or the entire cost of the breast cancer drug Herceptin for the next 30 years.

In October Clare asked for the people of Leek not to judge. She is beyond human judgement now.

Vex not her ghost: let it pass but recall her fate and the fate of others like her.