Boycott Newquay, says dead boy's stepmum
Holiday resort's attitude to underage drinking blamed after 16-year-old plunges to his death from cliffs
Friday 10 July 2009
Little more than two hours after being pictured drinking under-age in Newquay, 16-year-old Paddy Higgins plunged 70 feet to his death from a cliff.
Yesterday, in an attempt to shame the Cornish seaside town where the boy died into halting the drinking culture, his family released a picture of the drinking party where he had been celebrating the end of his GCSEs with friends.
Paddy, like thousands of young people, had been attracted to Newquay's reputation as a place to party.
His parents, John and Maria, were too distraught yesterday to speak publicly but his stepmother, Shireen Higgins, spoke out to urge other families to boycott the holiday town.
She has launched a campaign group on Facebook, the social networking website, and said: "We just want to warn parents not to send their kids there.
"We are telling them 'Do not send your children to Newquay' until they do more to stop under-age drinking and fence off the cliffs."
Mrs Higgins was critical of the town's attitude to under-age drinking after learning that Paddy had been served sambuca in a restaurant about two hours before he died. At home in Wokingham, Berkshire, she said, he and his friends would have been seen as too young to be served.
"Newquay is advertised as the party capital of the UK for teenagers. To 16-year-olds partying means getting drunk. It is all about the messages the resort is sending. We cannot bring Paddy back but if we can stop other families going through what we are going through something positive can come from what has happened."
Mrs Higgins' son, Tom, 19, also went to the seaside town after finishing his GCSEs. Now at Brunel University, he said that teenagers were attracted to Newquay because it was possible to be served alcohol. Paddy was reported to have been proud to have been able to buy his friends a round of drinks, and the photograph of them clutching glasses was taken by a restaurant waiter.
The teenager's body was found on Tolcarne Beach early on Monday morning. He was the second youth to die in a cliff fall in Newquay in a just over week.
Eight days earlier, Andrew Curwell, 18, from Saddleworth, Lancashire, was found at the foot of cliffs at the nearby Great Western Beach. The Leeds Rhinos' rugby academy player was on holiday with friends celebrating the end of his A-level exams when he fell.
The owner of the Indian Express restaurant in Newquay's Central Square, where Paddy and his friends were photographed, denied the group was served sambuca. But he is said to have confirmed the group was at the restaurant and was drinking.
"They were in here drinking but there is no way we would served them sambuca," he is reported as saying. We ID everyone and people are only allowed to drink with a meal. This is a family restaurant."
Inspector Dave Meredith, of Devon and Cornwall Police, urged people visiting pubs and clubs in the town to use buses and taxis rather than walk near the cliff edges.
Paddy was staying at a campsite just outside the town.
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