Road Safety News
 

Helmet charity is worthy winner of Lynda Chalker Award

Monday 21st November 2011

The Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust has been presented with the 2011 Lynda Chalker Award, for promoting cycle helmet use to children throughout the United Kingdom.

The Lynda Chalker Award is presented by Road Safety GB to an individual or organisation who has contributed significantly to road safety in the UK. The 2011 award was presented at the Road Safety GB National Conference on 15 November. Alan Kennedy, chair of Road Safety GB, presented the award to Angela Lee and Amanda Woodward on behalf of the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust.

The Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust was set up in 1998 by Angela Lee, a paediatric trauma nurse, who witnessed first-hand the injuries suffered by young cyclists who were not wearing a cycle helmet. Angie has been awarded an MBE for her services to road safety and a Sue Ryder Woman of Achievement Award.

Despite only having three part-time employees, the charity carries out projects that much larger charities would struggle with. In 2010 the Trust distributed more than 10,000 free and low cost helmets to children throughout the UK.

Every year the Trust also runs ‘Helmet Watch’, a scheme which rewards young cyclists between the ages of three and 15 for wearing a helmet. In 2010 the charity provided police officers with more than 30,000 reward packs containing an on-the-spot prize, a bookmark showing how to fit a helmet correctly and a prize draw card. This year the Trust will be producing 40,000 reward envelopes.

The charity has also distributed 20,000 copies of each of the HeadFirst and HeadStart packs; one to every State Primary School in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The packs contain a DVD, role-play suggestions and activity sheets - all focused on cycle helmet use and brain injury awareness.

These two packs follow on from HeadSmart which was launched by the Trust in 2008 and for which, in 2009, the charity became the first British organisation to win the European Safety Awards. A copy of this pack was sent to every State Secondary School in England and Wales, and it is now on its third print run and has gone into schools in Scotland.

Presenting the award, Alan Kennedy said: “I believe without doubt that this initiative has done a huge amount for the promotion of the wearing of cycle helmets and has prevented countless head injuries to children.  It is a worthy winner of this prestigious award.”

For more information about the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust visit: http://www.bhit.org

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We need to be clear about why this award was made. Whilst we do need to tackle the road danger issue, this initiative was developed by one or two non road safety professionals, who are very dedicated to the reduction of brain injuries in children. The award is for the long term unselfish efforts of a few people who have made a huge effort, for many years, to make a difference. It is a well deserved award winner in my view, and we should applaud and encourage this kind of enthusiasm, and dedication within the road safety profession. This was a perfect opportunity. There are many other awards out there such as the Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards that may reward initiatives that also reduce speeds or educate drivers. If they are nominated they will be judged on their merits.
Alan Kennedy - Durham

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The Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust grew out of the medical profession as a response to the number and frequency of children with cycle accident related head injuries that were presenting at hospital A&E departments. The Trust promotes the use of helmets mainly amongst school aged children, especially at primary school. These children are learning to ride a bicycle and are novices for some period of time. During this time they are at greater risk of coming off their bike and thus sustaining an injury - often purely through their own efforts and with no other vehicle involved - and these accidents are often off-road as well as on. Therefore, the promotion of helmets among school chidren is a valid and beneficial activity that is aimed to reduce head injuries. It doesn't make any judgement about adult cyclists decision making and choices.

Interestingly, any child up to the age of 14 years who rides a horse/pony on the roads is required by law to wear a helmet.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

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In terms of road danger reduction IE minimising the danger at the source of danger and promoting sustainable means of moving around promoting helmets is not a good intervention and should not be recognised as reducing any road danger. If Road Safety GB genuinely wishes to promote the reduction of danger on the road they should be rewarding interventions such as lowering speed limits or educating drivers. Such a missed opportunity.
David Dansky, London

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