On Saturday 3rd February 2007, James Andre Godfrey Smartt-Ford known as ‘Andre’ to his family and ‘Dre’ to close friends left home to go to a friend’s birthday party at Streatham ice- skating. There was no need for his mother to worry about him going out for the evening. In her mind, he was safe, out with his girlfriend and friends, he would be home soon, or so she thought……………James never returned home that night.
What happened to the smiley, happy go lucky 17 year old on that Saturday night?
………His life was tragically cut short – he was shot dead in front of over 300 children, young people and adults who were all out, having a fun night out. A mother’s worst nightmare is now the living memory of his mother Tracey Ford.
As a result of James’ tragic death, Tracey found the strength to start JAGS Foundation and the ‘Families Supporting Families Network’ to give mothers, siblings, relatives and friends vital peer support, following the work of L.O.S.T. (Losing Our Sons Tragically) which she started in 2007 following James’s tragic death. What Tracey soon realised was that many other families living with trauma after suddenly losing a child to youth violence, tend to live in isolation.
Tracey’s journey has taken her far and wide and has become a inspiration to many others as she continues to share her personal challenge of how she overcomes her anger through Forgiveness and the use of restorative justice practices. Tracey delivers keynote speeches at Universities, schools, conferences in both the statutory and voluntary sectors and frequently takes part in radio debates and discussions on the ‘national epidemic’ of youth violence.
Visit JAG’s website for more information.