I’ve had a break from writing anything for this blog for a bit. There is still so much I want to write, still so much I want to say, still so much awareness raising I want to do. But this last week or so I have also returned to something that I was doing BF – before Frankie – which I haven’t done a lot of since.
For those of you reading this blog who have never met me, my natural instinct is to help others. I’m a born campaigner, if I see things that I think I could help with by raising awareness such as early pregnancy loss, stillbirth, cleft lip/palate and rare chromosome disorders then I will do whatever I can to raise as much awareness of them as possible. I love to write about and raise awareness of topics that are very close to my heart, and sometimes those things are also close to home.
Way back in September 2012 I had just got off junction 7 of the M5 after visiting my father in law. I’d been working all day, popped in to see him and got on the M5 at junction 6 and got off it at junction 7 to go home. The roundabout layout at that junction had changed to a “give way”, so I duly stopped and craned my neck to see what was coming before pulling out (this was due to the layout design, you have to crane your neck to have any idea of what’s coming before you pull out).
Then suddenly BANG – another car hit me from behind.
We pulled over and we were both okay, the rear bumper of my car wasn’t too bad but the front of the other car looked a write off. He hit me at some speed, and I’m glad that he didn’t push me out into the oncoming traffic as a result of the bump, because that could have been awful.
The guy driving fully admitted that he didn’t realise the road layout had changed, that he didn’t realise he had to give way and by the time he realised it was too late and he couldn’t stop. We exchanged details and that was that, apart from getting my car sorted out.
Or so I thought.
The next morning my husband and I went back to where I had the accident. Within less than half an hour, we witnessed and captured on photos/video a further FOUR near misses of a similar nature. There was no excuse for it, it was a Sunday morning, a sunny day with clear blue skies – there was no reason for the near misses except for one thing. It had to be the new layout.
To cut a long story short, I sent the photos and footage to the Worcester News, and started a campaign to get the layout reviewed by Highways. It had considerable press coverage, I was interviewed on the local radio and I held a public meeting about the new layout. A review was undertaken and the layby where I had the bump coned off, and a few changes were made in terms of extra signage and warnings about the new layout. But still the accidents and near misses occurred – tons of them.
This was all BF – before Frankie. After Frankie I concentrated on fundraising and all that mattered was keeping Frankie’s memory alive – nothing else. Then last summer I was contacted by a few local people who was wondering whether I was still doing the campaign. There were still a lot of people out there who wanted the roundabout layout reviewed and changed, so I stepped up the campaign again. This was despite all the death and loss I was going through, and on top of everything else I was doing. I held a second public meeting, and as a result changes were made including an anti-skid surface, although this has only just recently been done. Result!
More death and loss followed, and after my cousin Tony died I couldn’t even think about the roundabout, let alone do anything further about it. But something was happening further down the road from Whittington Roundabout….
Roadworks had been taking place for months to make the single track leading up to Whittington Roundabout at the Ketch dual carriageway, and this new layout was opened a few weeks ago. It was another accident blackspot, with two lanes merging into one extremely abruptly, and only half of the road was dual tracked. Local Councillor Tom Wells posted this footage – http://www.malverngazette.co.uk/video/4268853666001/?ref=vidshare – and suddenly it went viral. An accompanying petition was signed over 1200 times and as a result Worcestershire Highways coned off the area and started to conduct an urgent safety review.
Again the Worcester News and local press had a field day with it. The roundabout was even featured on BBC Midlands Today. The residents here hated the new layout with many calling for a public meeting so that Highways could give their side of the story and be accountable for the new layout and what happened. My husband filmed footage on his dashcam of the new layout and the problems with it.
I really, really hesitated before jumping in and doing anything, because I didn’t want to do it on my own. But in the end the part of me that likes to help won, and I teamed up with a group of others. We formed the Worcester Transport Forum, and requested a public meeting with Highways, not just about the roundabout issues in Worcester, but all the traffic issues that have occurred recently. It is getting beyond a joke, and we need to know from Highways what’s going on. I have had an acknowledgement, but am waiting for a formal response. I cannot do it on my own and I’m so grateful to be working with some brilliant like-minded people who like me just want to make a difference and help others.
I feel as though I have found me again by doing this. Of course, the BF (Before Frankie) me has gone forever, I am irrevocably changed as a result of losing my much loved and much wanted son. But this last week I have felt a bit more like my old self, the old me, but different. Always different.
Yes there are going to be people who have a pop at me for standing up for what I believe in and trying to help. There are always going to be people who disagree and online trolls whose sole purpose in life is to hide behind their screens and put people down by typing vitriol. I guarantee they would NEVER say the things they say to people online to people’s faces.
My husband has to drive that route every day to work. I don’t want anything to happen to him as a result of a road layout that is not fit for purpose. I don’t want to lose him because some idiot decides to cut him up or takes a chance at ignoring the layout and causing an accident. I too have to use that road layout, although I do try to avoid it where I can, but I shouldn’t have to avoid it.
I was wondering whether I should back down and not get involved, and starting to worry about online trolls and comments. And then, this morning, I woke up and found this message from Facebook from one of the guys who is helping with the Worcester Transport Forum Facebook page and campaign:
“It’s better to have an opinion on a matter than simply having an opinion on someone else’s opinion. Strive to be better, make things a better place and never let the trolls win.”
The guy who sent this knows who he is, and I cannot thank him enough for those words. I know that some see me as a “busybody” and probably think I have nothing better to do, but that’s not true. I have plenty of things that fill my time other than this campaign, such as:
I have a husband.
I have a wonderful family.
I have wonderful friends
I have my work.
I have this blog and my writing.
So to those who do decide to have a pop at me, I ask you these questions:
Would you say the things that you have said online to my face?
What have YOU done to help YOUR community?
What have YOU done to help raise awareness of important issues, issues that could potentially save a life?
I do the awareness raising work that I do and campaigning work on a local level it because I feel it is the right thing to do, and I want to try to make a difference to my community. At the end of the day if nothing comes of it, at least I have tried my best.
And that’s all we can ever strive to do.
My Local Campaigning Work
To view the campaign work I’m doing in my local area, visit:
The video footage that my husband took can be found on his YouTube channel:
The page below is run by one of the guys who I have joined up with:
Finally, I was reminded of this quote from Winston Churchill by a friend on Facebook, which is so true: