Mother's hope to open 24-hour mental health crisis centre in Danny's memory

Sue Willgoss, mother of Daniel Willgoss.

Sue Willgoss, mother of Daniel Willgoss. - Credit: Jordan Peek

A heartbroken mother is continuing to push for change in memory of a popular gym owner - and have a mental health crisis centre opened to help others.

An inquest into the death of Danny Willgoss, from Lowestoft, this week highlighted "a missed opportunity" to help him as he struggled to cope with severe mental health difficulties.

Daniel Willgoss.

Daniel Willgoss. - Credit: Willgoss family

His family said Danny was let down by authorities after he was assessed as not being at risk.

Now his mum Sue Willgoss, who campaigns to raise awareness of mental health, has urged for lessons to be learned from her son's death.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Willgoss said that while the family can’t change what happened to Danny, they "hope to change the future for other people" - with the ultimate aim of opening a 24-hour suicide crisis centre in Lowestoft.

She said: "All involved with Danny missed opportunities to make a difference, all involved could have made a difference.

"Suicide prevention is everyone’s business, we all have a part we can play but especially those who should work together to meet young people’s need.

"I know Danny had the drive and passion in him for what he wanted to achieve in life but sadly he just didn't have the help he needed.

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"Those missed opportunities were real missed opportunities.

"We need to learn from them - one of which was a legal requirement."

Daniel Willgoss, who ran Mammoth Power Gym. Picture: Jordan Peek

Daniel Willgoss, who ran Mammoth Power Gym. - Credit: Jordan Peek

Popular powerlifter Mr Willgoss ran the Mammoth Power Gym in Whapload Road, Lowestoft.

The inquest at Suffolk Coroner's Court on Monday, September 13, heard that the 25-year-old, who was autistic and suffered mental ill-health, had been involved in a serious motorbike crash in Great Yarmouth when he was 17.

Danny was giving a friend a lift on his motorbike when a car pulled out and was involved in the collision.

The two teenagers suffered serious injuries, with Danny left with a head injury that led to Post Concussion Syndrome and the onset of anxiety and depression.

At the inquest, the coroner, Nigel Parsley, read out a "pen portrait" of Mr Willgoss that he had written four years prior to his death, which described how he was at his happiest.

But after the crash, his "organised" life disappeared as he suffered headaches, dizziness, memory loss problems and back pain that left him struggling to maintain his college work.

Having gone on to struggle with his mental health after receiving this head injury in 2010, the pen portrait highlighted how he had "not returned to same person as I was before the accident".

The coroner said: "The motorcycle accident seemed to be the tipping point from when Danny was coping, to then not coping."

After losing the battle with his mental health difficulties, Mr Willgoss died at his home in Cambrian Crescent, Oulton, on June 17, 2018.

At the inquest, which lasted more than seven hours, and heard from more than 15 witnesses, the coroner returned a narrative conclusion.

He said: "Whether or not he intended his death at all material times can not be ascertained."

Sue Willgoss Lift Loud For Danny event

Sue Willgoss speaking at an event. - Credit: Lift Loud For Danny

Since her son's death, Mrs Willgoss has campaigned for improving mental health services after launching the #LiftLoudForDanny fund in his memory.

It holds regular sessions on Monday's and Thursday's in Lowestoft for various people and groups, along with well-being weekend walks and other games evenings that are alcohol free and well-attended by young people.

Mrs Willgoss said: "#LiftLoudForDanny has already achieved many things but our ultimate aim is to have a 24-hour suicide crisis centre that can also offer support for trauma.

"It's a big plan, but we want a crisis centre here in Danny's hometown - a crisis centre here for people to come to and feel safe.

"We are looking for properties.

"There is the Steam Cafe in Gorleston run by Access, but for people in crisis and really desperate that is still a long way to go.

"We have a lot of people that may not have the means to get to Gorleston."

New role

Earlier this summer Mrs Willgoss was appointed as a new suicide prevention officer at NSFT.

Having previously worked as a suicide prevention advisor within the trust, Mrs Willgoss has been delivering webinars to health and care staff to raise awareness of how to treat people who are suicidal.

Using her lived experience to challenge and educate services about the needs of people who are suicidal, while also helping the trust to learn lessons from the experiences of bereaved families, Mrs Willgoss - who is also a Lived Experience Influencer for the National Suicide Prevention Alliance - said: “I feel strongly that suicide is everyone’s business."

Virtual marathon

Next month, Mrs Willgoss will be running - "probably, mostly walking" - a virtual London Marathon around Lowestoft.

The '#LiftLoudForDanny Virtual London Marathon' takes place on October 3 to raise money for the charitable organisation.

Mrs Willgoss will head out from the gym in Whapload Road along the seafront to Claremont Pier and back eight times.

She said: "I do like to challenge myself every year.

"October 3 is Danny’s birthday so it seemed so fitting to set this as my challenge."

Pledge your support to the #LiftLoudForDanny Virtual London Marathon here.

Support

If you need help or support, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline on 0808 196 3494 both 24/7.

Alternatively text SHOUT to 85258 from anywhere in the UK any time, or call Calm 0800 585858.

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