Mum who lost son in motorbike accident urges Cambs Fire Service to continue driving workshops

A MOTHER who lost her teenage son in a motorbike accident is urging fire chiefs to continue a ground-breaking series of road safety workshops despite funding concerns.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service launched the Drive 2 Arrive workshops in February last year in a bid to cut down on the number of young people killed on the county’s roads.

The workshops, which feature talks from emergency medical charity Magpas, police officers and road collision victims has so far visited 32 schools, delivering its message to thousands of young people. They cost just �5,200 to run last year.

But the future of the workshops is unclear as fire chiefs battle to shave up to �6million off their budgets in line with Government funding cuts.

Alison Staff, of Brecon Way, Huntingdon lost her 17-year-old son Matthew Elliott in a motorbike accident in July 2010. He had only passed his test three days earlier.

Alison took part in the first Drive 2 Arrive workshop at her son’s former school – Hinchingbrooke – as a volunteer speaker and has gone on to speak at St Ivo School, Longsands Academy, and Impington Village College.

She says the workshops deliver a hard-hitting but important message.

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“The impact is extremely hard-hitting. The intention is not to upset the kids – this is just real-life and this is what happens. But quite often the girls walk out sobbing uncontrollably and the lads are also distressed.

“If it doesn’t make them stop and think then I don’t know what will. It is trying to get kids to realise, yes, they have got a driving licence, but they have also got a killing machine as well.”

The workshops are divided into two sessions. Students complete a series of 15-minute activities, which include judging braking distance and a courtroom scenerio.

Nick Bennett, who was left with speech and mobility problems following a head-on crash, would also talk to the children.

A fire service spokesman said: “Funding for the Drive 2 Arrive workshops is an annual decision based on what our priorities are going to be and how we have performed. The decision will be made in April.”