“THE worst thing I have ever done is lower my son’s coffin into a hole in the ground. The pain of losing him in a road traffic crash 17 years ago is a pain which lives with us as a family all the time, it never goes away. But if my story makes you think about your decisions and choices then today will be a result for me.”

These are the words of Tony Davison, of Otley, whose life changed forever on November 4, 2002. His son, Adrian, lost his life aged 18 in a road traffic accident in Bramhope. The driver, Adrian’s friend Nigel, also died at the scene and was later found to have been driving while over the alcohol limit. It was believed that neither driver or passenger were wearing seatbelts.

Since losing Adrian, Tony has devoted himself to preventing further loss of young lives on the roads through working with road safety awareness charity Brake, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Leeds City Council. He won a national road safety award in 2013. Tony said the “horror of a police officer knocking on my door to deliver the news that my son was never coming home” was a “life-shattering experience”.

“I want young people to learn from the tragedy of both deaths, and pledge to put safety first when they get behind the wheel,” he said.

Tony talked about his experience to more than 70 17 to 24-year-old apprentices from Bradford-based manufacturing businesses at a recent Driver Awareness Day event at Valley Parade. The silence in the room spoke volumes about the impact of Tony’s story, and 2017 statistics showed how Bradford is the only district in West Yorkshire to see a rise in the number of people killed or seriously injured on its roads.

The event - organised by Bradford Chamber of Commerce as part of a culmination of two weeks of tours, work experience, workshops and life skills training during Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019 - included a demonstration from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service of apprentices being cut from a car and talks and workshops delivered by the fire service and West Yorkshire Police looking at a collision case study, the ‘Save a Mate’ campaign and drink and drug driving.

Apprentices attended from Bradford-based firms including Powell Industries, Christeyns UK, Carnaud Metalbox and Keighley-based Ex-pressed Steel Panels. Regan Stevenson Midgley from Powell Industries said the event was transformational for her and her five apprentice colleagues, who all drive their own cars: “It’s easy to forget how dangerous driving can be when you just get in your car and go about your day, you forget how easy it is to have an accident.

“More people should hear Tony’s story and understand how devastating losing his son has been. When it’s people and actual families that have been destroyed by dangerous driving, it really does make you think twice about the next time you get into your own car.”

Matt Wolski, Head of Trauma and Technical Rescue Training at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said the event was “as good as it gets” for targeting young people. “When young apprentices get their first few pay packets, it’s understandable that they want to buy a car and sometimes that’s for the thrill. But the most dangerous emotion is feeling invincible.

“I’ve been at incidents and seen the life drain out of somebody, it will live with me for ever. As an employer, if you’re investing in an apprentice and giving them the means to afford to drive, it would be an absolute tragedy to lose that person in an accident because they weren’t well enough informed of the life-changing consequences of driving recklessly. Training like this should be a regular thing for all young people.”

Nick Garthwaite, founder of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks and managing director of Bradford-based Christeyns UK, said the two-week initiative had been about “manufacturers opening their doors to encourage students to find out about a career in manufacturing”. He added: “We want young apprentices to be more aware on the roads. We pay them, look after them, see them through their qualifications but we also need to make sure we look after them outside of work. Driver awareness training is a critical part in their professional and personal development and wellbeing.”

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks was a West and North Yorkshire Chamber initiative, sponsored by Barclays, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP, Mitton Group, Dale Carnegie UK, E3 Recruitment, the University of Bradford and Leeds Bradford Airport. In the second week of its second year, the project, backed by the Bradford Economic Partnership,

was on track for creating 6,000 work experiences with 65 manufacturers, double the number of 2018. Forty five secondary schools also participated this year. Local employers including Solenis, Acorn Stairlifts, Produmax, Keighley Laboratories and Melrose Interiors have facilitated work placements, school talks and site tours for 14-18-year-olds. apprenticeship numbers. As well as the Driver Awareness Day, school and manufacturer events included the district’s first Bradford Apprentices Live event, Life Skills events organised by Barclays.