Anti-knife crime campaigner Sarah Lloyd has been described as “phenomenal and inspirational” at the launch of a striking sculpture in Leeds.
Lucy Leadbeater, Chief Inspector at West Yorkshire Police, paid tribute to the University of Leeds student at the launch of the Knife Angel sculpture at the city's Royal Armouries Museum.
Sarah, who is studying for an MA in Social Research, spoke of the horror she felt following the fatal stabbing of her 17-year-old son Kieran a decade ago in Harehills.
In an emotional speech to around 200 people, Sarah revealed how her world was shattered when Kieran – who she describes as exploited and extremely vulnerable – was stabbed repeatedly because he had not repaid a £100 drug debt.
I have known Sarah for 20 years. She is phenomenal and inspirational and incredibly brave."
The sculpture is made from 100,000 knives handed in to the police across the country as part of an amnesty. Messages from families of victims of knife crime are engraved on its wings.
Chief Insp Leadbeater campaigned to bring the sculpture to Leeds.
She said: “I have known Sarah for 20 years. She is phenomenal and inspirational and incredibly brave. Thank you, Sarah, for speaking to us.”
The event introduced the 27ft tall Knife Angel to the people of Leeds and kickstarted a month of activity in schools and local communities designed to steer young people away from carrying knives. The Royal Armouries Museum will also be running free learning sessions for local secondary schools.
Sarah has become a passionate ambassador against knife crime. “I eat and sleep knife crime every day. Young people have become desensitised towards knife crime and this needs to change,” she said.
Realising she didn’t want any other families to go through the trauma she experienced following Kieran’s death, she has featured in and co-produced along with Tell Studio, a film called Cut Short: Fighting against Knives in the North.
This is part of a training package she is now delivering to young people to educate them that carrying knives does not make them safer. In fact, it has the opposite outcome as you are far more likely to be stabbed if you carry a knife.
Sarah’s key message to the people of Leeds was: “Be vigilant. Talk to your child.”
Other guest speakers included: Councillor Debra Cougar, Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council and the Executive Member for Community Safety; Alison Lowe, West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime; Paul Money, Chief Officer for Safer Leeds; Chief Superintendent Steve Dodds, Leeds Police District Commissioner; Guy Kearl, Resident Judge and Honorary Recorder of Leeds and Nat Edwards, Director General of the Armouries.
Pictured (left to right): Councillor Debra Cougar, Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council; Chief Inspector Lucy Leadbeater and anti-knife crime campaigner Sarah Lloyd. Picture courtesy of West Yorkshire Police.
The police also used the Official Knife Angel/British Ironwork Centre event to launch Project Shield, a campaign to bring leading organisations in the Leeds area together to combat knife crime.
Photo of Sarah Lloyd speaking courtesy of West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
For more information contact Jane Lewis in the University of Leeds press office by emailing email@example.com