Just before deadline last week, an e-mail was sent to press in the North East about the Safe Drive Stay Alive campaign requiring sponsors to continue.
I vividly remember what happened at the event when I went as a St Machar Academy pupil almost ten years ago. My recollection of where it was held is a bit hazy, but I believe it was Beach Ballroom and Hazelhead Academy were also in attendance.
When we arrived there was a pristine car at the entrance with an event volunteer, stating “you’ll never know what could happen” as we received raffle tickets while entering the event.
Speculation started that the raffle was to win the car outside. As I sat down next to some friends and looked across at the Hazelhead Academy pupils, I was tapped on the shoulder by someone at the event who said: “Here take this raffle ticket.”
I had no idea what was going on as my yellow raffle ticket was replaced by an orange raffle ticket.
Everyone with a raffle ticket was asked to stand, this wouldn’t be the only time we were asked to stand at the event.
As we stood, everyone with a yellow raffle ticket was told to sit down, some anticipation grew with the 20 or so pupils still standing with orange raffle tickets. It was pointed out to us that according to statistics, those still standing would die on the roads.
Standing and being a young man away to embark on driving lessons, this moment has stuck with me all these years.
At the event we heard from the emergency services who tell of incidents they have attended, some in horrifying detail.
Another moment that stuck out for me was when a gentleman in a wheelchair appeared on stage.
He spoke candidly about being in a motorcycle accident and for the second time at the event, he asked us to please stand up.
As all of the pupils complied, he spoke again and said softly... “I can’t even do that.”
It is almost ten years later and I still remember that moment like it was yesterday.
As school pupils we probably were not taking the event as seriously as we were supposed to, but I can tell you that at that moment everyone in the room understood the seriousness of what the event was trying to get across.
Safe Drive Stay Alive is now appealing for sponsors and I can’t state enough how valuable I think this event is to whole of the North East.
If you think you could help please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Around 5,000 students from Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray are expected at the event this year due to be held in November.
I’d like to echo what the chairman of Aberdeenshire Community Safety Partnership, Douglas Milne has said: “If we’ve only saved the life of one driver, passenger or pedestrian over the years, I know it’s been worth all the effort and emotion which goes into this show.”
At the end of the event I went to, I remember everyone filing out, one by one in a pensive mood.
When we got outside we were greeted by another car, this car was smashed to pieces, had broken glass and was damaged beyond repair.. Any lingering doubt from any pupil had now disappeared after seeing this car wrecked.