'I promised him we would make change': Mum's vow to her much-loved son

Daniel Willgoss.

Daniel Willgoss. - Credit: Willgoss family

A mother has issued a heartfelt plea urging that "lessons must truly be learned" following the death of a much-loved gym owner.

Well known in the community for his work running the Mammoth Power Gym in Whapload Road, Lowestoft, popular powerlifter Danny Willgoss died at his home in Cambrian Crescent, Oulton, on June 17, 2018.

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

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

The 25-year-old, who was autistic and suffered mental ill-health, was found unresponsive by his family after leaving "a worrying post" on social media.

At an inquest into his death at Suffolk Coroner's Court on Monday, September 13, the coroner Nigel Parsley said Mr Willgoss had spent the afternoon of June 17, 2018 in a public house managed by his family, before cycling home.

He said: "It was after messages had been posted on social media that had caused concerns, that his family returned home and he was found unresponsive."

The doors and windows had been locked, and the family had to break in through a window 

Reading out a "heartfelt" statement, in which Mrs Willgoss described Danny as "our rainbow baby", she described how he was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) aged three, and stayed with the service until he was almost 18.

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Recalling the night in question, Mrs Willgoss said: "I started to panic and we broke in through the kitchen window.

"Daniel was laid on the sofa and he looked peaceful, I thought he was asleep but he wasn't.

"I can't describe the feeling of sadness and despair in that moment.

"I sat with him until he was taken away. I held his hand and promised him we would make change."

Mrs Willgoss added: "No one person is to blame.

"Nothing can bring Daniel back but lessons must truly be learned. Changes must take place as he had so much to give."

Since her son's death Mrs Willgoss been a campaigning force for improving mental health services having launched the #LiftLoudForDanny campaign in a bid to raise awareness of men's mental health.

Sue Willgoss, mother of Daniel Willgoss.

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

The coroner read out a "pen portrait" of Mr Willgoss that he had written in four years prior to his death, which described how he had "very bad days" when he "felt in crisis".

It also highlighted how he was involved in a serious motorbike crash in Great Yarmouth aged 17, adding he had "not returned to same person as I was before the accident".

The coroner also read out a report of Professor Pickett, along with witness statements while evidence was heard from police, doctors, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, a liaison diversion practitioner and a number of other organisations during an inquest lasting more than seven hours.

Passing on condolences to the family, Mr Parsley said: "I think it's clear Danny came from a most loving and dedicated family.

"What really struck me during the cause of the evidence is that Daniel posed a real risk to himself.

"All his loved ones, family and friends looking on knew that, but whenever he saw the mental health practitioners he was not posing an immediate risk so no mental health assessment was possible.

"There was a missed opportunity in October 2017, when there should have been a full review.

"It's acknowledged that review didn't take place.

"Would that have changed the outcome?

"I don't think anyone can say but as a family you'd have known at least it happened."

With the cause of death recorded as "1a multiple drug toxicity", Mr Parsley added: "I can't return a conclusion of suicide in Daniel's case.

"I can return a narrative conclusion, a short factual statement.

"Danny Willgoss died as result of an overdose of prescription medication, due to his condition and the alcohol he had consumed.

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

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.

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