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Firefighter’s widow to join national road safety battle
THE partner of a cyclist killed on Oxfordshire’s roads is to become an ambassador for a national road safety group.
Eynsham’s Nicci Saunders will lead Brake’s county road safety week in November and could visit schools to speak to children.
Partner and father of their two children Joe Wilkins, 39, was cycling with a friend in Eaton Road, near Appleton, last year when he was hit and killed by Paul Brown, 30.
Brown, of Oxford Road, Eynsham was sentenced to 240 hours unpaid work and banned from driving for 12 months earlier this month after admitting causing death by careless driving.
Miss Saunders said: “It is getting busier and busier on the roads and there are more and more people out there.
“It is an important thing to make sure our girls are safe – we have already lost one person in our family, we do not want to lose anyone else.”
Miss Saunders was approached by Brake, which campaigns for road safety and supports victims, and will take part in its 17th road safety week, which runs from November 18 to 24.
This year’s campaign will focus on distraction and the charity will call on motorists to “tune in” to driving by switching off their mobile phones and not multi-tasking at the wheel.
Ambassadors tell their stories during the week, including interviews with local media, and have gone on to work in schools to educate youngsters and fundraise for Brake.
Miss Saunders said: “I am not a public speaker and I do not really know what it is all going to entail yet.
“But I would like to support them as much as I can and if we can get anything changed or make roads safer it has got to be worth it.”
Brown was acquitted at Oxford Crown Court of causing death by dangerous driving but admitted death by careless driving following the May 24 crash.
Recorder Andrew Burrows told him said he did not see the cyclist in the darkness but “you ought to have seen him before you did and then taken the simple evasive action necessary to avoid him”.
Miss Saunders – who had daughters Kyra, six, and Cory, four with Mr Wilkins – said: “For the first time I have had to realise, as much as our lives are never going to be what they should have been, we cannot live the next 40 years being angry and miserable.
“I do not want the kids to grow up and think life was great until Daddy was killed and it was awful after that.
“I am ready to move forward with my life – and have a life and the girls have a life – but I am not ready to move on.
“Joe is still at the forefront of my mind most days and I do not think I really believe he is not coming back.”
Brake senior campaigns officer Ellen Booth said: “We are incredibly grateful that Nicci is supporting the week.
“It is so important that stories like her’s are told so that people understand the impact that allowing yourself to be distracted at the wheel has on families.”
s For information about the campaign, visit roadsafetyweek.org.uk
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