Young man’s death used in campaign against legal highs

Jimmy Guichard: Suffered heart attack and brain damage

A young Irishman who died after taking legal highs is being featured on posters across Latvia in a bid to prevent others from suffering the same fate.

GAA fanatic Jimmy Guichard died last month after taking a legal high at his father Martin’s home in London.

The 20-year-old had moved from Donegal to England to look after his father, who is suffering from cancer.

The former Letterkenny hurling star was found in his bedroom after suffering a massive heart attack and brain damage, and died at Darent Valley Hospital in Kent a few hours later on Oct 3.

Jimmy’s heartbroken mum Karen, 42, launched a campaign in an attempt to stop other youngsters from dying in the same manner as the former St Eunan’s hurling player.

Karen’s ‘Legal High Awareness and Prevention Campaign’ has received huge support from around the world, including from the mayor of Riga in Latvia.

Mayor Nils Usakovs asked Karen if he could use Jimmy’s image on a billboard campaign warning others of the dangers of taking such substances.

The pictures show Jimmy as a perfectly healthy young man and then just hours later fighting for his life on a ventilator in hospital just hours before his death.

Karen was even invited to the launch but couldn’t make it and sent a video message instead.

Karen admitted: “I never thought me having a rant on Facebook and wanting to go to confront these people would have escalated into my boy’s picture being used on a global scale to save the lives of other young ones.

“I am feeling very in awe of it all at the minute. If Jimmy’s life and what he went through can save one other young person anywhere in the world then it will have been worth it,” she said.

Karen had Jimmy cremated in London last month but brought back his ashes to her Co Donegal home last week.

She now plans to scatter some of those ashes on the GAA field at O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny, where Jimmy spent his happiest times.

She received a pleasant surprise this week when Jimmy’s former hurling manager, Paddy Flood presented her with Jimmy’s latest medal and a picture of his team, which he had never collected.

“It was such a lovely gesture. Jimmy may have been born in England but he considered himself an Irishman and especially a Donegal man.

“The people of St Eunan’s and Donegal have been so good to me and my family.

“I will never find the words to thank them,” she said.

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