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Melanie Leahy, Mental Health Campaigner Nominated for Pride of Britain Award

Members of the public are nominating Essex mother and mental health campaigner Melanie Leahy for the Special Recognition Award in this year’s Pride of Britain awards.

Melanie has undertaken a gruelling long running campaign to get to the truth surrounding the tragic loss of her late son, Matthew. Matthew Leahy died in hospital in what ought to have been a place of safety back in November 2012 aged just 20. Nine years on Melanie fights for truth, accountability and change for mental health services across our nation. Melanie started her fight alone but, over time, she has been joined by over 70 Essex families, eminent experts, the communities of SEND/Mental Health and Addiction. Public support still continues to widen and grow.

Over the years, Melanie has supported many other families affected by negligent care in mental health services. She campaigns tirelessly as the country continues to read of new lives lost and tragedies which may have been prevented.

Commenting on her campaign, Melanie said: “All too often, our eyes are diverted away from the dangerous, dark corners where the most vulnerable are at risk. People are dying – in shockingly high numbers – in places where they should be protected and cared for during times of acute mental illness. These are our children, our parents, our beloved and we have lost far too many of them to preventable deaths. 

“It is only when, with no warning, acute mental illness happens in our families – that we realise the full extent of the failings – and by this time it is tragically too late and we lose our loved ones in places of supposed safety, or under community care that is woefully, lethally unsafe. 

“I got the ball rolling and hundreds of bereaved families stood beside me and together we secured 105,580 signatures on a UK Government petition in a very short space of time and we secured an Independent Inquiry. But it is not quite enough to do the job we need to do. We know that our lovely public want these deaths and this barbaric, secret suffering to end. They have demonstrated this. This recognition was hard fought for over a ten year period and I appreciate more than I can say. But we now need you to help us push for a full Statutory Public Inquiry into inpatient and community services so that we can expose the relentless failures, underinvestment and its full impact upon those who never had voices and were let down by failings in the system. 

“Only a Statutory Public Inquiry compelling witnesses to attend and give their evidence will get the answers the families deserve. Hospital and community Mental Health services need to be compelled to attend. We must find out why we continue to lose some of our most vulnerable in the community. Please help us to win – for them. Please help us to ensure that this never happens in your family. Please make history with us by standing by my side while we secure the first ever Statutory Public Inquiry into Mental Health.”

Grieving families are standing side by side with Melanie and refuse to engage with the limited inquiry offered until the Government grants Statutory status.

The Pride of Britain nominations, made by members of the public, recognise Melanie’s work and dedication to create a lasting legacy for her late son. Support too remains as strong as ever for the current public campaign for the United Kingdom’s first Statutory Public Inquiry into Mental Health Services.

Nina Ali, Melanie’s solicitor at Hodge Jones & Allen commented on the nomination: “I am delighted that the public are recognising Melanie’s determination and drive to get to the real truth around Matthew’s death and the death of so many other vulnerable people whose care was given over to Essex Mental Health Services.  

“No mother should have to go through all the challenges and hurdles she has faced in order to get basic answers. I hope the judging panel recognise the pain and anguish Melanie has been through and her absolute determination to achieve justice for her son, and so many other loved ones, failed by the system.”

To support the nomination visit

Winners will be chosen by the Pride of Britain judging panel, from a shortlist produced by the Pride of Britain research team, who will consider every public nomination received. Nominations close on Friday, 12 August.