Derry man Albert Smallwoods has received an award for his 40 years voluntary contribution to Foyle’s Home Accident Prevention Committee.
Albert, who is well known in the city for his contribution to preventing accidents in the home and on the roads, was presented with a gift from Mayor Kevin Campbell on Monday night at Altnagelvin Hospital. Following the ceremony Albert said: “It was all quite a surprise, a very pleasant one and it was greatly appreciated.”
Speaking of the need for home accident awareness, Albert added: “About 95 percent of accidents and deaths in the home are caused by a human factor, so we need to educate through publicity. There are two groups who are most at risk, under 5s and over 65s, these are the people who need to be especially careful.”
Albert has been involved in campaigns raising awareness of the dangers of cords on blinds, falls common among the elderly and most recently hot hair straighteners being left within reach of children. Albert was awarded an MBE 20 years ago, and in 2011 he stepped down from his post as president of St John Ambulance in Northern Ireland after more than 60 years of service.
He said: “I’d like to think I have helped people in their homes. It’s immeasurable how many accidents we have prevented but I would like to think we have helped quite a number of people.”
Despite now being in his 70s, Albert says he has no plans to retire: “I expect to have a few years left yet, and in two years I will be celebrating 50 years on the road safety committee. It’s an honour and a privilege to serve on the local committee and be of assistance to all those people in their home. There are lots of people who are professional in this world but I have been a volunteer for 40 years. Being a volunteer and giving up one’s time is something I would encourage people to do, especially older people. It keeps you and your mind active.”