Wednesday 26 October 2016

Road-safety champions alert: this could be your year for an award

* Our Road Safety Authority expert details how those you put forward could win top awards

Published 07/10/2015 | 02:30

The RSA is naming its top road-safety award Gertie Shields, founder of Mothers Against Drink Driving, who passed away earlier this year
The RSA is naming its top road-safety award Gertie Shields, founder of Mothers Against Drink Driving, who passed away earlier this year

Every year around this time we put out the call for nominations for the RSA's 'Leading Lights in Road Safety' Awards.

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The awards were set up to recognise ordinary people doing extraordinary things for road safety.

People such as Gertie Shields, who sadly passed away recently. Gertie was one of the country's first standard-bearers for road safety. After her daughter was killed by a drunk driver, she worked tirelessly to change the drink-drive laws here. In recognition of her work, she was awarded the Supreme Award for Road Safety at the Leading Lights Awards in 2013.

As a further tribute and legacy to her work, the RSA has decided to rename its top honour in road safety after her. It will now be known as the Gertie Shields Supreme Award in Road Safety.

Last year's Supreme Award winner was Claire Barden, who runs the Learn Early Montessori Academy and Crèche in Sligo. She was recognised for the outstanding work she does in teaching pre-schoolers good road safety habits in her crèche. She designed an innovative preschool curriculum to teach children in her care about road safety skills. But what really impressed the judging panel, chaired by RSA chairperson Liz O'Donnell, was that the resource is now being extended to other crèches in the area.

Claire's dad saw the work she was doing and decided to nominate her for a Leading Lights Award. Not only did she pick up an Education category award, she won the Supreme Award itself. It was unexpected but a truly deserving accolade for all her work.

So who will pick up this award in 2015? It could be someone who has worked tirelessly to advance the cause of road safety at a local or national level. It could be a voluntary organisation that has helped improve safety in the community. It could be a local authority or even a business that has made the workplace safer for staff who drive as part of their job.

We know there are road safety champions in every parish in every county. They deserve to be recognised for the work they do. This is your chance to make sure they get that recognition.

Among the winners last year were Dr Laura Doherty and Roberta Connolly. Laura was involved in a collision in 2009 which resulted in an acquired brain injury. Laura has spoken widely at educational events, conferences and schools about her own personal experience. Roberta 'Bobbie' Connolly suffered an acquired brain injury as a result of a road traffic collision in which she was knocked down at age 10, and since then has been working with local community groups and the RSA on children's road safety campaigns.

An award was also presented to Community Garda Ashling Connor and Ratoath National School for a safer cycling initiative they developed collectively which involved the pupils of Ratoath NS creating 'golden rules' for safe cycling, issuing bike licences to competent cyclists, and handing out penalty points to those who broke their golden rules. It resulted in a marked positive behaviour change among pupils in the school and surrounding community.

Do you know of similar people in your local area? Well we need you to nominate them for this year's Leading Lights in Road Safety Awards. The awards will be presented at a formal ceremony in Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park, on Wednesday, December 9.

Entries to this year's awards are currently being accepted and the closing date is Tuesday 27 October at 5pm.

Nominating yourself or someone you know couldn't be simpler. Further information on the criteria for entry, the categories for this year's awards and how to submit an entry are available at

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