SOBER BUSINESS: Rebecca Willis, of Goonellabah, will be drinking more water this month of Ocsober, to help raise awareness of alcohol poisoning after her brother died from it in 2013.
SOBER BUSINESS: Rebecca Willis, of Goonellabah, will be drinking more water this month of Ocsober, to help raise awareness of alcohol poisoning after her brother died from it in 2013. Marc Stapelberg

Drinking killed Rebecca's brother, now she's warning others

REBECCA Willis has more reasons to go sober than most.

Just five days after the birth of her son on May 2, 2013, she learnt her youngest brother, Bradley Michael Frank Hancock, died suddenly of alcohol poisoning on his 21st birthday.

"On the 7th of May 2013, my life was turned upside down when I was told my baby brother had passed away on his 21st birthday," she said.

"I don't think he was that much of a drinker, but boys will be boys.

"He just lay down and never woke up. He had too much alcohol in his system."

Some facts

  • Alcohol-related harm is responsible for 3200 deaths annually in Australia
  • 81,000 people are hospitalised annually due to excessive alcohol consumption
  • Teenagers who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to become dependant on alcohol than those who don't start until they're 21.
  • The total cost of alcohol-related harm was estimated at $15.3 billion in 2004/2005
  • 45% of 16-17 year old drinkers say they intend to get drunk most times/every time they drink alcohol.

SOURCE: Life Education Ocsober website

Like most 21 year olds, Bradley had big dreams.

The former Trinity student was a talented banjo player who performed on stage at Bluesfest in 2012.

"My baby brother was kind, loving and (had) a big heart," Ms Willis said.

"He was always there to help out, he was loved by everyone, his mates, the music industry and everyone who knew him.

"He was always playing games, jokes on everyone. That is just who he was."

Since her little brother's passing, Ms Willis said she has given up alcohol completely.

When she saw an ad for Ocsober on television last year, Ms Willis decided it would be the perfect way to raise awareness about the consequences alcohol and drugs can have.

"I just want to teach people what alcohol and drugs can do to you," she said. "It can destroy lives and it can destroy families if someone passes away."

Ocsober is about individuals raising money by going sober for 31 days in October.

Money raised will go towards Life Education which aims to teach Australian children how to make healthier choices about drug and alcohol use.



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