On 4 April last year, 23-year-old Georgia Hague, from Welwyn Garden City, arrived in Magalluf to work her first summer season as a bartender and within a matter of days struck up a very close friendship with one of her colleagues, 19-year-old Natalie Cormack - three weeks later, on 27 April, Natalie fell to her death at the Eden Roc apartment block, the first of three victims at the site last summer.
“It was horrendous, I just couldn’t believe it and then I began to hear about similar incidents during previous summers. She was such a close friend I was in total shock. From what I was able to gather she had gone to the apartment block with some friends and left at 5am, only to realise that she had forgotten something. But unless you are staying in the block, you can’t get back in, so she tried to climb round the fence of the seven-story block and that is when she fell,” Georgia told the Bulletin this week.
“Then, some three weeks later, a young lad also fell to his death at the same block and he had been in the bar. I remember briefly talking to him - he had ginger hair. I was totally devastated and it got to the point where I started blaming myself for not having said anything to the guys he was with, warned them, I don’t know, but I was really struggling. And then, a third person died at the block of apartments and that is when I decided I had to do something.
“So I set up the campaign “Don’t leave a friend behind” to raise awareness.
The tag line is “Holidays should result in good memories, not tragedies. Every year people are returning home without a friend don’t let this be you,” and Georgia, who is deeply passionate about her crusade, said that people come here for a holiday, to have fun, not to die.
“I began creating posters and putting them in bars and clubs and then Calvia Council saw what I was doing, we had a few meetings and now they are helping to fund the cost of printing the posters which this season I intend to start putting up in hotels as well.
“The campaign has been well received by the local bars and clubs as well and I’m getting constant calls from places who want my posters up in their bars and clubs,” Georgia said.
“I know we’re not going to stop people from drinking. It’s already started in Magalluf with the stag parties. This is peak time, cheap flights and cheap hotels but what I do is my best to scare some of my clients who I think could be vulnerable.
“Visitors are already being robbed in the resort and I warn the guys, who aren’t all youngsters, there are plenty of 40-year-olds in the resort right now, to just try and stay alert, keep an eye on each other, don’t let anyone wander off. They could easily get lost, forget where their hotel is etc. and this is when disaster and tragedy strikes,” she said.
“This is such a wonderful place, I know my campaign may be hard hitting but it needs to be to achieve its aim - holiday makers should not be dying here,” she said.
And, on the back of her campaign Calvia Council, with the full support of the Foreign Office, the British Consulate in the Balearics and Georgia, has recently launched a hard-hitting publicity drive, warning young Britons about the dangers of drunken behaviour on holiday.
Called “Return Trip”, the initiative highlights the perils of ‘mixing fun and alcohol’, using images of the possible consequences of drinking to excess.
A website has been set up at returntrip.eu with the message: “Mixing fun and alcohol can be very dangerous. Due to heavy alcohol consumption, young people die after falling off buildings, in fights or in traffic accidents. Have you ever thought about the pain and suffering that you are going to leave behind if you do not return home?”
The website features downloadable images for other organisations and companies to use, and a video which reinforces the message about excessive drinking.
“We need to be giving this issue maximum publicity and driving home the message hard. Yes, people read about balcony deaths in the papers in the UK but it doesn’t hit them. They’re detached and think it will never happen to them. Who knows? If this is a subject which is constantly flagged to the public then people will think twice before making that quick action of ‘just hopping over the balcony bannister to the next apartment’ which could result in their life being lost and a family torn and broken.”