Mother’s fight to save others

Christina Anderson has spent 12 years raising awareness of the dangers of body piercing. Catherine Scott reports.

Christina Anderson whose son Daniel died after having his lip pierced
Christina Anderson whose son Daniel died after having his lip pierced

IN 2002 budding rock star Daniel Hindle decided to have his lip pierced, it was a decision which would cost him his life.

Daniel was just 17 and died of septicaemia eight weeks after having the piercing.

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Since her son’s death his mother, Christina Anderson has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of body piercings by young people.

Christina, 52, from Richmond, set up an initiative called Dan Aid which, following a successful pilot in Sheffield, is set to be rolled out to schools, colleges and youth services nationwide.

The scheme offers advice, workshops and teaching resources designed to help young people understand the health risks and make informed choices about body piercing – an issue which Christina believes is still “a grey area”.

“You can walk into a salon anywhere and somebody with very little knowledge of your anatomy or health can stick a needle into you because you want to look cool or trendy, and I find that quite scary,” says Christina.

“Body piercing is very poorly regulated across the UK. You automatically assume it’s regulated the same as tattooing is, because it’s on the high street, but it’s not. It’s up to each individual council.”

Daniel, a keen musician, died in 2002 from septicaemia, but also suffered from a childhood heart condition which made him more likely to develop complications from a body piercing.

Christina later joined forces with Sheffield MP Meg Munn, who led a campaign to change the law so local authorities have the power to regulate piercing outlets.

“Even more people are getting pierced now,” she said.

“It’s a real issue for some schools if they do not have a policy in place. They can be at loggerheads with young people.

“Most young people are uninformed when it comes to body piercing. This teaching resource gives you the professional delivering the material, a rich choice of resources relating to the health and wellbeing of young people that are relevant, engaging and stimulating; complimenting the Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 curriculum.

“With the information 
I’ve developed for schools they can tackle that in the classroom.

“There is no age limit as such – children can be coming in to school at 10 or 11 with belly button piercings.

“I’ve had interest from schools up and down the country asking for packs.”

She continued: “It’s all based around safety and making informed decisions.

“A lot of piercings will get infected but they won’t be life threatening – because the infection went straight into Daniel’s bloodstream there were no outward sings that he was poorly.

“For about a week I thought he was a bit off.”

Funding to launch Dan Aid was provided by the UnLtd HE Support Programme, a joint venture between Sheffield Hallam University and its students’ union.

Christina graduated with an English degree from Sheffield Hallam in 2010.

Daniel would have celebrated his 29th birthday at the end of May, and his mum – who has five other children – admitted the years since his death have “not been easy”.

“We mark his birthday more than his passing.

“We normally go bowling, which Daniel loved, and I cook his favourite meal, spaghetti bolognese, followed by chocolate brownies, and put flowers where he’s laid to rest.

“The world is definitely a poorer place without Daniel.

“He would have gone on to do great things with music. He was very funny, as well – a caring and thoughtful young man.

“If only he had a snippet of information in his head at the time he went for the piercing – or if he’d only have asked me. It would have put up a red flag.

“Daniel would have run a mile if he knew what we know now.

“His life was so precious. Because he grew up with a heart condition he knew he wasn’t like everyone else.

“Something really positive has come out of this tragedy and this can only be a good thing.”

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