First permanent memorial for road traffic victims is unveiled in Warwickshire
The first permanent memorial for road traffic victims in Warwickshire has been unveiled today (Friday 7 July 2023) at Hartshill Hayes Country Park, with a special ceremony attended by representatives of the county’s emergency services, road safety campaigners and local dignitaries.
Funded by Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership, the memorial has been carefully crafted with a decorative emblem featuring a tree of life, inscribed with: ‘Remembering lives lost and injured on our roads in Warwickshire’. It sits as part of the park’s commemorative wood and offers families a peaceful location to remember family members, friends or colleagues affected by a road traffic collision.
The concept was first revealed last November at a service at St Mary’s Church, Warwick, to commemorate the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Since then, the Partnership has been working closely with specialist designers, metal workers and stonemasons to bring the concept to reality.
Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership Philip Seccombe said: “The idea for this memorial is to offer the families, friends and colleagues of those affected by a road collision a safe and peaceful place where they can come together to remember the person they have lost or suffered life-changing injuries. As a neutral venue away from the roadside, it a place for reflection and not judgement, helping to reinforce the message to all those affected by a collision that they are not alone.
“In Warwickshire we provide specialist support to the families of those killed or seriously injured in road collisions, through the Police Family Liaison Officers and also through the significant work of the Independent Road Traffic Victim Advocate (IRVA). Hosted by the road safety charity Brake and funded by my office, the IRVA works closely with victims’ families to give practical and emotional support when it is needed most.
“We wanted to take this ground-breaking work further with the memorial, which serves as a poignant reminder of the need to raise awareness about the devastating consequences of road traffic collisions. Each year, lives are needlessly lost and the Partnership is working hard to make our roads safer and encourage everyone to be responsible road users.”
The memorial was unveiled by road safety campaigner Sharron Huddleston, who lost her 18-year-old daughter Caitlin in a collision in Cumbria in 2017. She was the passenger in a car driven by her friend, a young and newly-qualified driver. Sharron has since worked with road safety charity Brake in Caitlin’s memory.
Speaking after the unveiling, Sharron said: “I was honoured to be asked by Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership to unveil this very special memorial for road traffic victims today. This is something that is very close to my heart, as our family suffered the sudden tragic bereavement of our youngest child, Caitlin, at the age of 18. Caitlin was killed as passenger in road traffic collision six years ago, on the 14th July.
“A lot of people don’t realise how many deaths and serious injuries there are on our roads and this memorial can hopefully raise awareness of this. Road traffic collisions are in fact the main cause of death for 17-24 year olds. These tragic deaths and injuries on our roads devastate families and change lives forever. Having somewhere special to visit to honour and remember our loved ones is very important to bereaved families.”
Also supporting the unveiling was RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims. Rebecca Morris, Head of Communications at RoadPeace, said: “In 2022, almost 30,000 people were killed and seriously injured on the UK’s roads.
“Many people do not realise just how many people are affected by road crashes, until it happens to them. It is vital for us to raise awareness of the risks we all face when we use the roads, and of the devastating physical and mental impact that collisions have on individuals, families and communities.
“This beautiful memorial not only provides a symbolic place for people to visit to remember their loved ones, but it also reminds visitors to the park of the many people who have sadly lost their lives on Warwickshire’s roads over the years.”
The WRSP memorial can be visited daily during normal park opening times. Further information about Hartshill Hayes Country Park including opening hours and accessibility, can be found at: https://countryparks.warwickshire.gov.uk/homepage/5/hartshill-hayes-country-park
While the memorial offers a safe place for families to visit, we understand that everyone grieves differently. Other ideas of how to remember a loved one, including leaving an online tribute, can be found at https://warksroadsafety.org/warwickshireremembers/
Similarly, Brake provides a free, confidential, specialist service for anyone affected by road traffic collisions. You can call the National Road Victim Service on 0808 8000 401, open Monday-Friday 10am-4pm. For more information visit www.brake.org.uk.
Notes for editors
Photographs of the unveiling are attached.
Photos Left to Right: Matthew Hopley, Lead Chaplain Warwickshire Police, Philip Seccombe Chair of Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership, Sharron Huddleston Road Safety Campaigner, ACC Ben Smith, Craig Cooke WMAS, Ben Brook Chief Fire Officer
Sharron Huddleston, Road Safety Campaigner in memory of her daughter Caitlin
Sharron campaigns in memory of her daughter Caitlin who died on the 14 July 2017 as a passenger in a collision on a rural road in Cumbria, at the young age of 18. More information can be found here Caitlin’s Story | Brake
In Warwickshire in 2022 (provisional data), 19 (2019, 34) people lost their lives and 236 people (2019, 282) were seriously injured in road traffic collisions.