Driving event targets local apprentices as part of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks

The worst thing I have ever done is lower my son’s coffin into a hole in the ground. The pain of losing him in a road traffic crash 17 years ago is a pain which lives with us as a family all the time, it never goes away. But if my story makes you think about your decisions and choices then today will be a result for me.” Tony Davison

The 4 November 2002 is a day which changed the life of Otley-based Tony Davison and his family for ever. Their son, Adrian, lost his life at just 18 in a horrific road traffic crash in Bramhope. The driver, Adrian’s friend Nigel, also died at the scene and was later found to have been driving while over the prescribed limit of alcohol and it was believed that neither driver or passenger were wearing seatbelts.

Tony, who now works alongside the road safety awareness charity Brake, recounted his experience to more than seventy 17 to 24-year-old apprentices from Bradford-based manufacturing businesses who were attending the Driver Awareness Day at on 17 October as part of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019.

The silence in the room spoke volumes about the impact of Tony’s story and the recounting of 2017 statistics which show how Bradford is the only district in West Yorkshire to see a rise in the number of people killed or seriously injured on its roads.

Gathered at Valley Parade on Thursday (17 October), the event, which was organised by Bradford Chamber of Commerce as part of the culmination of two weeks of tours, work experience, workshops and life skills training during Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019, included a live demonstration from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue of apprentices being cut from a car followed by a carousel of talks and workshops delivered by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and West Yorkshire Police covering a collision case study, ‘save a mate’ and drink and drug driving.

Apprentices attended from Bradford-based firms including Powell Industries, Christeyns UK, Carnaud Metalbox and Keighley-based Ex-pressed Steel Panels.

Regan Stevenson Midgley from Powell Industries based on Ripley Road in Bradford, said the event was transformational for her and her five apprentice colleagues, who all drive their own cars.

“It’s easy to forget how dangerous driving can be when you just get in your car and go about your day, you’re so focussed on getting to work and to the gym that you forget how easy it is to have an accident,” she said.

“More people should hear Tony’s story and understand how devastating and life changing losing his son has been, because of a car crash. It’s so different seeing a situation through the eyes of those who have been affected by it. When it’s people and actual families that have been destroyed by dangerous driving, it really does make you think twice about the next time you get into your own car.”

Her sister, Molly, is also an apprentice at Powell Industries. She added: “What really struck me after listening to Tony’s experiences is that we are so lucky because we still have choices that we can make and Tony’s son doesn’t. We have the choice to shape the way we behave and what we do can and will impact on other people if we take unnecessary risks. You wouldn’t want to live with that.”

Matt Wolski, Head of Trauma and Technical Rescue Training from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said the Bradford Manufacturing Weeks event was “as good as it gets” for targeting young people and getting the message across.

“When young apprentices first start in work and get their first few pay packets, it’s understandable that they want to go and buy a car and sometimes that’s for the adrenaline and the thrill. But the most dangerous emotion is feeling invincible.

“Unfortunately, I have been at incidents and seen the life drain out of somebody before my eyes and it will live with me for ever. As an employer, if you’re investing in an apprentice and giving them the means to afford to drive, it would be an absolute tragedy to lose that person in an accident because they weren’t well enough informed of the life changing consequences of driving recklessly.

“Training like this delivered by Bradford Manufacturing Weeks today should be a regular thing for apprentices and all young people - the more who see and experience the real life demonstrations, the talks and see the consequences of reckless driving, the more awareness we raise and the more lives are saved.”

He added: “Initiatives like this are absolutely worth organising and today has confirmed even further our belief that it is something that should be delivered again and again in every district in the UK.”

Nick Garthwaite, founder of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks and managing director of Bradford-based laundry detergents manufacturer Christeyns UK, said the event is the culmination of two weeks of 6,000 interactions between young people and local employers who have opened their doors to encourage students and pupils to find out more about a career in manufacturing.

He said: “Bradford Manufacturing Weeks has been very much about the manufacturers opening their doors to encourage students and pupils to find out more about a career in manufacturing, but we also wanted an event that supports today’s apprentices and adds value to their own experience of employment.

“We want young apprentices to be more aware when driving on the roads. We pay them a lot, we look after them, we see them through their qualifications but we also need to make sure we look after them outside of work. Driver awareness training is a critical part in their professional and personal development and their wellbeing.”

Nick added: “From the young people I’ve spoken to this morning, the feedback is that this has been an incredibly hard hitting and thought provoking event and if that means they go away and think more carefully about how they drive in the future, it will have been a great success.”

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks (7-18 October) is a West and North Yorkshire Chamber initiative, delivered by Bradford Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Barclays, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP, Mitton Group, Dale Carnegie UK, E3 Recruitment, the University of Bradford and Leeds Bradford Airport.

In the second week of its second year, the project was on track for creating 6,000 work experiences with 65 manufacturers involved, double the number of 2018. Forty five secondary schools also participated in this year’s scheme.

Local employers including Solenis, Acorn Stairlifts, Produmax, Keighley Laboratories and Melrose Interiors have facilitated work placements, school talks and site tours for 14-18-year-old school pupils. Backed by the Bradford Economic Partnership, the initiative is introducing the district’s manufacturers to young people to help boost apprenticeship numbers by creating more inspired, informed and ‘work ready’ applicants into the sector.

The calendar of school and manufacturer events included the district’s very first ‘Bradford Apprentices Live’ event, Life Skills events organised by Barclays and the ‘Driver Awareness Day’ in partnership with West Yorkshire Fire Service and West Yorkshire Police to encourage safe driving among young apprentices.

Tony Davison won a national award for road safety education in 2013. Since losing his son Adrian, Tony has devoted himself to preventing further loss of young lives on the roads through working with Brake, West Yorkshire Fire Service, and Leeds City Council.

Tony said: “I have first-hand experience of the devastation that road crashes cause. The horror of a police officer knocking on my door to deliver the news that my son was never coming home was a life shattering experience. I want young people to learn from the tragedy of both deaths, and pledge to put safety first when they get behind the wheel.”

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