There isn’t a day goes by when Dungiven mum Denise McAuley doesn’t miss her kindhearted and caring daughter, Claire Kelly.
Claire was just 20 years old when she was killed in a road traffic collision after a night out with friends.
Today Claire (pictured right) would be 22 and, while Denise still struggles to deal with the unimaginable loss of her daughter, she doesn’t want any other mother to suffer as she has.
“As a mother who has lost a daughter in a road traffic collision I realised the importance of promoting road safety among young people. My daughter Claire was tragically killed after a night out with her friends,” says Denise. “I am only learning to live with this now and after such a short time I realised that so many young people were taking unnecessary risks on the road. I felt that I could not go through life without trying to do something in relation to this. I don’t want another mother to feel the crushing anguish of such a devastating loss.”
Denise set up the Claire Kelly Memorial Fund in a bid to raise money to help promote road safety and help establish a listening ear and sign post service for families who have lost loved ones in collisions. Earlier this year, Denise helped make possible a local road safety programme where local group Benbradagh Community Support and young people from the area produced a road safety DVD. It is due to be previewed this weekend, and Denise hopes it will educate for generations to come.
“It is my hope that the young people involved in this project, and those who see it, can take the message of how important it is to be responsible for their own road safety,” says Denise.
Colleen Harkin, youth coordinator for Benbradagh Community Support said it had been a poignant and sensitive project to be involved in.
“As the project has developed it has become clear that road safety is a subject that is far reaching,” says Colleen. “A lot of the facilitators involved in the programme have lost family members and friends as a result of dangerous driving and the level of understanding they have on the subject has shone through in the work they have delivered. The children involved have learned a lot and have enjoyed themselves during the process. I knew we had a good project in mind at the planning stages, but the outcome has far surpassed my expectations and I feel we can take this much further than Dungiven. I am very happy that Denise McAuley approached us about doing this project together and I know the young people have thoroughly enjoyed it.”
The Preview will take place on Friday 6th September at 8pm with live music and a bbq at O’Hagans Lounge Dungiven. Entry is £5 with proceeds going towards The Claire Kelly Memorial Fund. DVD’s can also be ordered on the night.
Denise says she wouldn’t be able to be doing what she is without the help and support from the Dungiven community. She says they have been brilliant in supporting a number of fundraisers to date.
“We don’t get funding. We it all by ourselves so I am so proud of the community because, without their support, I couldn’t do any of this. I would appeal to people to be responsible drivers and to think twice before you act,” said Denise, adding: “I hope young people and parents who see it will learn long term goals.”