A film telling the story of a local young person who was tragically killed in a road traffic collision was shown at a special event in Ruthin on 12 July where its powerful road safety was shared with the local community for the first time.
Olivia’s Story is one of positive change borne of tragic loss and tells the tale of 17-year-old Olivia Alkir from the town, who was killed on the B5105 in June 2019 following a collision caused by two young drivers racing.
The special showing of the film at the Old Courthouse, organised by Vice-Chair of the North Wales Police and Crime Panel Pat Astbury, was an opportunity to share the importance message of the film with the local community and enabled Olivia’s visiting relatives from Turkey to play their part in joining the message of road safety.
Olivia was travelling in a Ford Fiesta with two other girls when the driver lost control on a bend at 72mph and hit an oncoming car head-on. The 17-year-old driver had ignored pleas to slow down. Olivia, who was sitting in the back seat, received massive internal injuries at impact and tragically died at the scene. Two of her friends suffered life changing injuries.
Olivia’s mum and dad, Jo and Mesut Alkir, were present in the audience, alongside the Alkirs’ relatives; local residents; the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Andy Dunbobbin; Assistant Chief Fire Officer for North Wales, Stuart Millington; Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki from North Wales Police, and representatives from Denbighshire County Council and local schools. The showing was also an opportunity to emphasise Mr and Mrs Alkirs’ call for a black box to be fitted to every young person’s car, to monitor driving and try and prevent further such tragedies.
At the event, a number of questions were asked by members of the public present, including how roads are being made safer in the Ruthin area; how to bring the road safety message of the film to politicians in the Senedd and Westminster; how successful the campaign to fit black boxes has been so far, and what more can be done to encourage their fitting through working with the insurance industry, politicians and other groups.
Working with Olivia’s parents, family and friends, the film and supporting school lessons were premiered place at the end of March 2022. Since the launch, the lessons are being delivered in all secondary schools in North Wales and from September the project will be available nationally via SchoolBeat. The resource will also be available to book through the Fire Service. Olivia’s Story has also received national interest, with a number of news outlets running the story of the film and its important message. In June, Mesut and Jo Alkir also won the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Community Safety category at his Community Awards ceremony.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin said: “Road safety is a hugely important issue for all of us in public service and I am determined that North Wales should have some of the safest roads in the UK.
“Unsafe driving should not be tolerated. That is why I have made improving road safety a key part of my Police and Crime Plan as Police and Crime Commissioner. No-one who has come into contact with Olivia’s Story and the message behind it can fail to have been moved by the dedication of Olivia’s parents, Mesut and Jo, and their family, to keeping her memory alive and to making sure that no other family experiences the pain that they have felt since Olivia’s tragic death. I would like to pay tribute to them, their courage, and their determination to see change happen.”
Sgt Beth Jones, North Wales Police, commented: “Our target audience for the project, from the start, was the 14–20-year-olds within educational settings and colleges. Our hope for the future is it will be rolled out in Youth Clubs, Young Farmers, Police Cadets and any other environment that captures young people within the target age group, so that they understand the message of staying safe on the road. It is important to realise that this is only the beginning and it’s vital that the project remains sustainable, and has a lasting impact. From the outset, this has all been about teamwork and passion and creating a legacy worthy of Olivia’s name.”
Stuart Millington, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, commented: “North Wales Fire and Rescue Service fully endorses the requirement for black boxes to be fitted in all young drivers’ vehicles. The film is both poignant and powerful and if it is effective in changing the behaviours of young drivers, we will have Olivia and her legacy to thank.”
Feedback from the schools on the film and lessons so far has been very positive. One pupil commented: “I thought it was very good since it made you think twice before going into a car with an inexperienced driver.”
Another said it was: “Educational, eye opening and a very good lesson. It taught us all to be safe while driving and to reject peer pressure!”
A teacher also commented: “Genuine emotion came through in this film because the people were ‘real’ and not characters playing a role”.