In the early hours of 2nd January 2003, Letisha Precious Shakespeare, aged 17, became the innocent victim of a drive-by shooting in Aston, Birmingham. Letisha was one of the victims of a revenge attack where shots from a MAC-10 machine gun were sprayed into a crowd of innocent young people celebrating at a New Year’s party. Letisha was devastatingly shot four times and the fatal bullet pierced her heart and lungs.
Letisha’s mother, Marcia Shakespeare, has recounted that night many times. "When I found out it felt like my head had exploded. Tears came flooding down my face. My world was ripped apart. I was so confused and overwhelmed with fear. I just could not understand why my only daughter had been murdered".
Following on from the shooting, Marcia didn’t know what to do or where to go. The one thing that kept her going was the loving relationship that she had shared with Letisha.
As part of Marcia’s recovery, she visited New York along with members of West Midland Police. This trip was designed to give the team a greater insight into youth crime through visiting organisations and front line professionals tackling gang crime and serious crime in the US city.
When Marcia returned to the UK, she looked for answers to tackle the issues in Birmingham, and embarked on many years of helping the police get a message out about the futility of gang violence to thousands of young people.
But Marcia wanted to do more, and she began going back to the start of Letisha’s crime. She found that during the events leading up to Letisha’s death, girls and young women had been groomed, controlled, and exploited. The facts behind Letisha’s murder, drove Marcia towards finding new ways of helping vulnerable girls and young women at risk of violence and unhealthy relationships. This led to Marcia joining forces with the former Home Secretary, Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, to set up with The Precious Trust in 2012.
The Precious Trust’s overall vision is to create pathways to positive futures for girls and young women at risk of youth violence, gang involvement and criminal and sexual exploitation. The Precious Trust has now directly supported almost 2000 vulnerable girls and young women. The Trust is chaired by Rt Hon Jacqui Smith and is led by Marcia in loving memory of Letisha.
In recent years, Marcia has been honoured for leading a tireless campaign to educate young people after the murder of Letisha. This has included an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list, an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Newman University, and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pride of Birmingham.
The judges at the Pride of Birmingham Awards Ceremony commented that: “Marcia’s love for her daughter shines through in everything she has done. And her work has had a massive impact on the lives of so many young people”.