Mother's tribute to 'sporty, outgoing and articulate' Afrika Yearwood as coroner concludes she took her own life

A bereaved mother has paid tribute to her "sporty, outgoing and articulate" daughter after an inquest concluded that she took her own life.
Afrika Yearwood. Picture supplied by Irwin Mitchell.Afrika Yearwood. Picture supplied by Irwin Mitchell.
Afrika Yearwood. Picture supplied by Irwin Mitchell.

Senior Coroner Kevin McLoughlin today delivered a narrative verdict at the conclusion a two-day inquest, before which he stated that there had been a "lamentable catalogue of missed opportunities" by various agencies to help the Rodillian Academy sixth-former and said he would write to health trusts ensuring actions are taken to avoid preventable suicides in future.

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Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post afterwards, Afrika's mother Beverley Yearwood paid tribute to her high-achieving daughter.

"Afrika was very popular," she said. "She had lot of friends, she was the person that people went to to get advice from. Most of her friends remember her from her infectious laugh.

"She was an A* student and always put 110 per cent into everything she did."

Afrika played football for Rothwell Juniors and Castleford Town Juniors for 12 years - as well as taking part in gymnastics - and was nicknamed Drogba after the Chelsea FC striker.

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She was a waitress at Prego Pizzeria in Wakefield and was looking forward to a holiday to Australia, her family said.

Mrs Yearwood said: "I think the main thing is everybody described her as funny. She used to jump out at people and video it."

But the youngster was academic too, achieving eight A and two A* grades at school, and went on to study PE, business and mathematics at sixth-from.

"She did have high expectations of herself," said her mum

"She was very sporty, very outgoing and articulate."

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Mrs Yearwood said: "I want people to know that Afrika didn't have an impulsive nature before mental health issues."

"Before Afrika was ill she didn't have those characteristics."

Throughout the inquest, Mrs Yearwood, who acted as the family's spokeswoman at the hearing and questioned health professionals who were giving evidence, repeatedly probed whether local and national protocol were followed during Afrika's care.

Reading out a statement after the verdict, she said: "I would like to thank the coroner for listening to our voice and our concerns.

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"We now feel that we've been heard and we've had some answers.

"The evidence that has been heard has highlighted several human errors, multiple failings and missed opportunities."

She added: "It's my opinion that working in a multi-disciplinary way is not a new concept, but in Afrika's case this did not happen due to the lack of communication between the various agencies."

Mrs Yearwood also criticised the length of time it took for the health trusts involved to come up with a final draft of a serious investigation report.

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"This has taken 10 months and has had an impact on our mental health," she said.

"I am therefore pleased that the coroner has concluded that a section 28 regulation order was necessary for both trusts to ensure the safety of future young people approaching the age of 18 with mental health difficulties."