The mother of a Burton man who was fatally stabbed outside a nightclub, has said she gave her “full support” to a knife amnesty in the town, saying that knife crime is still a big problem and the campaigns help show the terrible impact knives have on people’s lives.
Yvonne Upton, 54, was left heartbroken when her son Connor was stabbed outside the former Merlin's nightclub in Station Street, Burton, in 2010. He later died at Burton's Queen's Hospital leaving a hole in the lives of all who knew him.
Since then, Yvonne has worked tirelessly with Staffordshire and Derbyshire Police to highlight the impact of knife crime and to prevent a similar tragedy from happening to others.
Following the launch of a knife amnesty by Staffordshire Police last week, Mrs Upton has spoken about how her life has changed completely and said there is more to be done to reduce knife crime.
The mother of four told the Burton Mail: “Connor was a typical 21-year-old who grew up in a close family. He worked, owned his own house and started his own family. He was happy.
"When it first happened it did not seem real. It took a long time for it to sink in for me to realise he was not going to come back through the door.
"When I hear a report of a stabbing it just brings it back home. If I can help get through to one person that they should not take a knife out so another family doesn't have to go through what we have been through then it has been worthwhile."
Mrs Upton said that her efforts will be worthwhile if it stops just one person taking a knife out on to the streets.
She said: “If I am honest I have not seen much change. I do notice more knife crime going on generally so I do think it is still a big problem and it needs to be addressed.
"I think the police are doing outstanding work in raising awareness in youngsters but I think more knife amnesties should be held each year. They are not just there to get knives off the street but it also highlights knife crime."
Both Derbyshire and Staffordshire Police ran knife amnesties last year. In Burton, more than 100 knives, swords and machetes were surrendered to police officers as part of a month-long amnesty in June. These included flick knives, antique swords, samurai swords, Stanley knives and bone-handled bush knives.
Dozens of knives were also taken off the streets of South Derbyshire as part of a county-wide knife amnesty. In all 32 knives were handed in. Across the county, almost 400 knives and other blades were surrendered during the six-week amnesty.
Seven years after father-of-two Connor’s death, Yvonne says her life has changed completely.
She said: “It is not the norm to bury your child but it happens and life has to go on, no matter how hard. Grief does change as time goes on and even though the hurt is always there, you do learn to control it and put a smile on your face.
"Connor's death has changed my life completely. I lost my identity for such a long time. I was no longer Yvonne Upton, I was just the mum of the lad that got stabbed."
The knife amnesty invited people to surrender blades at locations across Staffordshire including Burton’s police station.
Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones, head of local policing and operations at Staffordshire Police, said: "We would like to repeat the successes of last year where we reduced the likelihood of people carrying or using knives throughout the amnesty period.
"Sadly there are still some people who believe carrying a knife or storing a knife as a weapon in their home is a good idea and something that they need to do to fit in or be seen as tough.
"The truth of the matter is that you are far more likely to be hurt if you have a knife, with around 70 per cent of all people admitted to hospital with knife injuries stabbed with their own knife.
"It makes no sense whatsoever to carry a knife – so don't; take the opportunity during the amnesty to get rid and save yourself and your family from the senseless pain that carrying a knife can bring."
Connor's murderer George Lawrence, from Horninglow, was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 22 years following a trial at Stafford Crown Court.
To play your part in reducing knife crime, report people who you know or suspect may be carrying a weapon illegally by calling 101, or dial 999 if a crime is in progress or a life is in danger.