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09th Apr 2021

Richard Okorogheye’s mum wants to build a mental health foundation in his name

Simon Lloyd

“If we can use Richard’s name to bring more awareness then so be it”

The devastated mother of Richard Okorogheye plans to build a foundation in his name which will provide mental health support for young people and help those living with sickle cell disease.

Evidence Joel paid tribute to her son, whose body was found in a lake in Epping Forest on Monday, in a moving interview with Sky News.

While clearly heartbroken and struggling to come to terms with the shock of her son’s death, she said she hoped to use his name to raise awareness of the issues which had seen her son struggle during lockdown.

Since the sad news of his death was confirmed, Richard’s cousin, Blessing Okorji, has launched a campaign to raise funds to cover his funeral and provide a memorial bench which is to be installed close to the site where he was found.

Additional money will be put towards the creation of the foundation, which Richard’s mother hopes will help those with sickle cell disease, the name for a group of inherited health conditions that affect the red blood cells.

“There has to be awareness and for it to be treated as a serious disease,” Ms Joel said. “If we can use Richard’s name to bring more awareness then so be it.

“A lot of people out there have a condition where they don’t have a voice, the public and society need to know what sickle cell is.”

Richard left the family home on the evening of March 22 and was last seen on CCTV footage in Loughton, Essex, as he headed in the direction of Epping Forest in the early hours of the next morning.

“At this moment of time I just want answers as how my son lost his life,” Ms Joel told Sky. “I want answers. I desperately need closure.”

She added: “Richard was only 19” when he died, before questioning what there is to look forward to after his death.