SchoolBeat input “Olivia’s Story” shown to delegates in Westminster
On Monday 10th July, PC Llinos Owain (NWP SPO) and Mannon Williams (WPSP Regional Coordinator for NWP) visited London where the story of Ruthin teenager Olivia Alkir was shared at Portcullis House in Westminster with nearly 50 attendees, including Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords, road safety campaigners, representatives of the emergency services, Police and Crime Commissioners’ offices, and the insurance industry, with the aim of making our country’s roads safer for young people.
Olivia’s Story is a film which tells the tragic events surrounding the death of 17-year-old Olivia from Ruthin, who was killed in June 2019 following a collision caused by two young drivers racing. The film, which features her family, friends, and schoolteachers, has been used in schools to encourage road safety and to warn young people of the dangers of poor driving.
The event was sponsored by Rt Hon David Jones MP, the Member of Parliament for Clwyd West, the constituency which includes both Olivia’s home in Efenechtyd and the site of the accident on the B5105. The event was also strongly supported by the office of Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Andy Dunbobbin.
This special screening in Parliament was an opportunity to share the message behind the film and its key theme of road safety. Olivia’s mum, Jo Alkir, is campaigning for a black box to be fitted to every young person’s car to monitor driving and to try and prevent further tragedies like Olivia’s.
The information gathered via the black box can be used by an insurer to provide a telematics insurance policy. From this information, the insurer can give the driver a score for their driving. This can then affect how much they pay for their car insurance policy and encourage them to drive more safely. Jo Alkir also supports proposals to prevent new drivers from carrying young passengers immediately after first passing their test. The ‘graduated driving licence’ scheme would mean those under 25 years old would not be allowed to carry passengers under that age for 6 to 12 months after passing their test.
Following an introduction and welcome from Rt Hon David Jones MP, Jo Alkir and Andy Dunbobbin both shared their thoughts with guests, following which the film was shown. Sergeant Liam Ho of North Wales Police’s Roads Policing Unit spoke about the importance of fitting a black box in cars and how they could make roads safer for young people. Schoolfriend of Olivia, Seb Simpson, of Graigadwywynt, Ruthin, shared his thoughts on what the film means to him and the impact of the tragedy on those who knew Olivia. The room then discussed how the Westminster government, local government and industry can work further together to make our roads safer for young people. Contributions came from several MPs present in the audience, including Dr James Davies MP, Vale of Clwyd; Robin Millar MP, Aberconwy; Mark Tami MP, Alyn and Deeside; and Ian Levy, MP for Blyth Valley in the North-East of England, who praised Jo Alkir and spoke if his own family’s experience of injuries from vehicle collisions. Deputy Chair of the North Wales Police and Crime Panel and Ruthin resident Pat Astbury, was also present to support the campaign and speak to attendees.
About the film and its impact in schools
Since the launch of the film of Olivia’s Story, accompanying lessons are also being delivered in all secondary schools in North Wales and the film is being made available nationally via SchoolBeat. Olivia’s Story has also received UK-wide interest, with a number of news outlets running the story of the film and its important message, including the One Show on the BBC.
The target audience for the project, from the start, has been 14–20-year-olds within educational settings and colleges. The hope for the future is it that will be rolled out to Youth Clubs, Young Farmers, Police Cadets and any other environment that captures young people within the target age group, so that they understand the message of staying safe on the road.
Rt Hon David Jones MP said: “I was very pleased to welcome Jo Alkir to Westminster and to give colleagues the opportunity to view Olivia’s Story. Losing a child in such circumstances is nothing less than a tragedy, but Jo has bravely decided to use the opportunity to spread the message of the dangers of speeding and to campaign for new measures that will make the roads safer for young people. She is a remarkable woman and it was a privilege to be with her today.”
Jo Alkir commented: “It meant a great deal to take Olivia’s Story to London and to share my beloved daughter’s story. I am determined to see change happen, so that what happened to Olivia doesn’t happen to anyone else. I would also like to see Olivia’s Story shown to students right across the UK and would encourage anyone who wants to see our children be safer on the roads to join our campaign.”
Andy Dunbobbin, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, commented: “It was an honour to help share the powerful message of Olivia’s Story at Westminster with parliamentarians, campaigners and members of the emergency services. As Police and Crime Commissioner, improving road safety for everyone, but especially for our young people, is a key priority.
“I would like to pay tribute to Jo Alkir and her campaign – which I fully support – to try and educate young people about the dangers of speeding and encourage Government to make changes to the rules around motoring to reinforce this message. I hope that Olivia’s Story can be the catalyst for a change in safety and mentality around driving, both in North Wales and throughout the UK.”