Mum who missed Christmas due to drinking backs VRU campaign


A mother who missed her children’s Christmas due to drinking is backing a campaign by the VRU to raise awareness of parental attitudes to alcohol.

Catherine Park missed out on her daughters unwrapping their Christmas presents as a result of her drinking. Now she has joined the VRU in urging parents to think about how their attitude to alcohol can affect their children.

A key feature of the campaign is a specially designed animation backed by a rewritten version of The Twelve Days of Christmas sung by Lothian & Borders Police Choir.

Catherine said:

I missed Christmas morning completely because of my drinking. I didn’t get up until 2pm because of a hangover. My daughters had tried to wake me but I’d been up until 5am wrapping their presents and drinking wine. The look on their faces was my wake up call - they were so upset and I felt ashamed.

Catherine had her first drink at 15 and developed a drinking problem after she became a mum. Following two weeks in a residential alcohol treatment centre in Ayrshire called Abbeycare in 2005, she gave up alcohol completely. She now works as an addiction support worker for Abbeycare.

She said:

I became addicted to alcohol over a period of time. It just crept up on me and before I knew it I was drinking every day. And, during the festive period, it’s easy to drink as much as you like. Through my work, I’ve seen lots of people who have been through what I’ve been through and bitterly regret the effect it’s had on their kids. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through that, which is why I’m backing this campaign - people need to be aware of the impact that their drinking has on others.

The campaign’s online animation, which brings home just how easy it can be to lose count of the amount you drink over the festive season, replaces the usual birds, rings, lords and ladies in The Twelve Days of Christmas with alcoholic drinks. The lyrics were specially rewritten by Lothian & Borders Police Choir for the campaign.

Andrew Russel, musical director for the choir, said:

It’s really appropriate that the police choir assists in such a message about changing attitudes towards alcohol. Our arrangement of the well-known song is very different. Even though the words have something light-hearted about them, you can hear the effects of alcohol misuse in the plummeting harmonies. It ends in a sad, minor key, so the message is clear.

The campaign also features a series of tips for parents and carers about alcohol and Christmas. The tips will be tweeted under the hashtag #12days via the VRU’s Twitter feed (@vruscotland) throughout December.

Chief Inspector Graham Goulden of the VRU said:

Alcohol is often seen as part and parcel of Christmas celebrations, but it’s important for parents to be positive role models for their children by drinking in moderation. We’re not saying don’t have a drink, what we are saying is have a sensible attitude to drinking - kids form their attitudes towards alcohol by observing how the adults around them behave around drink.

Getting people to change those attitudes is not easy, though, so having someone like Catherine, who knows and understands these issues both from a personal and professional viewpoint is a great boost. The fact Lothian & Borders Police Choir agreed to provide the soundtrack for the campaign is the icing on the cake, and shows how committed our police officers and staff are to helping tackle alcohol related issues.

Parents and carers need to make sure that it’s a Christmas to remember for all the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

View the animation

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