2014 Leading Lights Winners

Read all about our winners in 2014 here.

The Leading Lights in Road Safety Awards celebrate the outstanding efforts of people to improve road safety in their communities. The awards provide a special opportunity for members of the public to honour the contribution of exceptional people to making our roads safer for everyone.

The awards ceremony took place on Wednesday 10th December 2014 in Farmleigh, Phoenix Park.

A total of 24 awards were presented by RSA Chairperson, Ms Liz O’Donnell. Hundreds of nominations were submitted to this year’s Awards which included individuals and groups from the business, media, education, emergency service and public sectors.

‘Road Safety Ambassador’ Award: Laura Doherty

Laura Doherty received a serious brain injury as a result of a car crash in February 2009. Prior to 2009 she worked as a doctor, however, she has never worked since and continues to suffer greatly from the effects of her car crash.
Since the collision, Laura has worked tirelessly with young people educating them about road safety, developing presentations for schools outlining the devastating effects of brain injury with particular reference to the injury she sustained in her collision.

‘Road Safety Ambassador’ Award: Roberta (Bobbie) Connolly

Roberta Connolly was knocked down while walking home from school when she was 11 years old. Roberta, widely knows as Bobbie, participated in a number of in road safety awareness campaigns and educate others, particularly children, about road safety.

‘Business’ Award: Crash Services - Ireland’s Safest Young Driver 2014 competition

Using this cutting edge technology, Crash Services developed a competition to find Ireland’s Safest Young Driver, which was a first of its kind. Crash services recruited 48 young people aged between 17-24 across the country who agreed to have a “black box” fitted to their vehicles which monitored their driving habits and gave them a driving score over the 10 week competition.

‘Road Safety Officer’ Award: Michael Finnegan (Meath County Council)

Michael Finnegan is the Road Safety Officer for Meath County Council. He is immersed in every road safety project in the county and very committed to making sure each project is given the resources and support required to make it a success. He has an excellent relationship with other stakeholders such as the Gardaí, HSE and RSA representative for the area.

‘Public Sector’ Award: Cork Sports Partnership

Cork Sports Partnership (CSP) coordinates and supports a number of initiatives in road safety awareness, education and training on an ongoing basis. CSP's largest programme is the Cork Safer Cycling Programme. Since the CSP established the Cork Safer Cycling Programme in 2010, over 5,000 children from over 150 Cork Primary Schools have taken part in the 6 week programme.

‘Emergency Services’ Award: Garda Ashling Connor (Jointly Awarded with Ratoath Senior National School)

As a result of complaints from the public in relation to young people cycling in the Ratoath area, Garda Ashling Connor invited young people in Ratoath N.S. to contribute ideas to help alleviate this problem. The pupils developed and introduced a ‘cycling licence’ whereby they identified three golden rules in relation to cycle safety which all pupils should abide by. These are: 1.Always wear a helmet, 2. Dismount the bike when entering the school, and 3. Always obey the Safe Cross Code.

‘Local Media’ Award: Midlands Today Show with Will Faulkner, Midlands 103

The 2013 Christmas Road Safety campaign on Midlands 103 was a series of short promos and a full length show which ran on the Midlands Today Show over the Christmas period highlighting the aching vacuum left in the lives of real people after road tragedy touched their lives. Using the motto “Don’t let their story become your story”, it appealed to drivers to slow down and exercise greater care when using the roads at Christmas.

‘National Media’ Award: Paul Melia, Irish Independent

Paul Melia is a journalist with the Irish Independent and covers road safety issues extensively year round. Paul is committed to reversing the trend in recent road safety statistics and highlighting the consequences of returning to the ‘bad old days’ of bad behaviour on the roads. Paul demonstrates a genuine interest in the key issues facing road safety advocates in Ireland and is committed to highlighting issues arising through the fatality and injury statistics to ensure a reduction in the numbers is achieved once more.

‘Education (Pre-Primary)’ Award: Learn Early Montessori Academy and Crèche (Claire Barden)

Claire Barden believes that in her capacity as a preschool owner, she has a great platform that she can use to help educate the children placed in her care in road safety. Claire’s primary aim is to increase road safety awareness among preschool children, their parents and family members and to help the fight to prevent injury and save lives on the roads, and developed a full curriculum for her pupils to learn about road safety.

‘Education (Primary)’ Award: Our Lady Queen of Peace

Our Lady Queen of Peace NS developed a road safety initiative in order to address safety concerns caused by double parking at their school gate. Teachers and pupils alike understood how dangerous this double parking was, and they tailored a Road Safety Campaign where a series of interventions were put in place including a school travel leaflet, road safety education lessons, safety slogans, parking tickets and the creation of life size dolls to deter double parking outside the school.

‘Education (Further)’ Award: University of Limerick (UL)

Limerick was designated as Ireland’s National Smarter Travel demonstration area in 2012. Following a Feasibility Study and subsequent Smarter Travel Strategy Document, two Smarter Travel Coordinator roles were created. The aim of UL Smarter Travel is to promote sustainable travel behaviour among the 15,000 UL staff and students such as walking, cycling, talking the bus and car sharing, as opposed to single occupancy car use.

‘Education (Special)’ Award: St Cecilia’s Special School

This project came about when St Cecilia’s Special School started work on the Green-Schools Travel theme in September 2010. They wanted to create an interactive resource so that their special needs pupils could learn about road safety. To further promote road safety awareness they created the “Ten Top Travel Tips” game.

‘Education (Community)’ Award: Roseanne Brennan and Jake’s Legacy

On 12th June 2014, six-year-old Jake Brennan was struck by a vehicle as he played with friends near his home in a Kilkenny housing estate. His distraught parents, in memory of their son, and "determined that Jake's name and spirit will live on", began a campaign to have residential road safety issues addressed and enforced in Ireland.

‘Special Recognition’ Award: Gemma O’Farrell

Gemma O’Farrell’s 23 year old brother Shane was killed in a hit and run in August 2011. Since then, Gemma has campaigned for the amendment of the Road Traffic Act 2014 where the sentence for “hit and run” offences was changed from 6 months to a maximum of 10 years where a fatality has been caused. This was enacted in February 2014 after tireless campaigning by Gemma and her family.

‘Special Recognition’ Award: Elber Twomey

On July 6, 2012, Elber along with her husband Con and 16 month old son Oisín were making their way home in their car after a holiday in the UK. Elber was also five months pregnant at the time with her daughter, Elber Marie. Another car collided with theirs at speed and from that moment Elber’s life changed forever. She lost her son Oisín and her unborn daughter in the crash and her husband Con suffered severe injuries and passed away 10 months after the crash. Since this catastrophic event, Elber has been campaigning and putting trojan work into a campaign to secure specialised training for Gardaí in Ireland and equally Police in the UK, on the best approach to deal with suicidal drivers.