**2019 Winners Announced**



Leading Lights Awards Ceremony

11 December 2019



Tipperary woman, Gráinne Kealy, who suffered a brain injury and serious facial injuries in a road traffic collision, and now uses her experience to educate others, has been awarded the Road Safety Authority (RSA) ‘Gertie Shields Supreme Award’ in road safety for 2019. The award was presented to Gráinne by Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, at the RSA’s 12th annual ‘Leading Lights in Road Safety’ Awards in Croke Park.  
Gráinne’s life changed forever in 2006 when the jeep in which she was a front seat passenger, skidded on black ice and crashed into a wall. At the time of the crash, Gráinne was seated with her feet up on the dashboard in front of her, the airbags deployed and Gráinne’s knees crashed into her face. As a result, Gráinne suffered brain and serious facial injuries. So severe were her injuries that surgeons had to remove her forehead and she has undergone countless operations and procedures over the years since.    

This year, Gráinne assisted the Road Safety Team in the Thurles Garda Roads Policing Unit to educate young people on the reality of trauma on Irish roads. Delivered to over 500 people, Gráinne recounts her experience and recovery process to help influence and remind students of the importance of behaving and sitting correctly when travelling as a passenger in a car.    

A total of 17 awards were presented by the RSA to individuals and organisations in recognition of their commitment and dedication to road safety at the ceremony. Master of Ceremonies at the event was RTÉ’s ‘How’s your Driving?’, ‘Now You See Me?’ and Ireland AM presenter Simon Delaney.    

This year, ‘Leading Lights in Road Safety Awards’ were presented in the following categories: Education (Preschool, Primary, Secondary, Third Level, Community), Business, Emergency Services, Media, Road Safety Champion, Public Sector, CPC Trainer of the Year, Approved Driving Instructor, and the new category Sustainable Travel. The RSA also presented ‘Special Recognition’ Awards to a number of people or organisations who have demonstrated a commitment to road safety in their communities.  

This year we received over 100 award nominations from all over Ireland for individuals, schools, businesses, community groups, colleges and organisations which were reviewed by an independent judging panel.   

The panel included:
     Hugh O’Neill (Retired Chief Fire Officer, Dublin Fire Brigade)
     Conor Faughnan (Director of Consumer Affairs for AA Ireland)
     Maurice Tracey (former Dept of Transport, Tourism & Sport official)
     Geraldine Herbert (motoring journalist)
     Sinead Spain (Group Head of News, Communicorp)
     Mary Cunningham (National Youth Council of Ireland)
     Joe Reynolds (Reynolds Logistics)
     Moyagh Murdock (RSA Chief Executive)


Winners in each category:


Approved Driving Instructor – Lee Mulligan Ballybane, Co. Galway
Lee has been an approved driving instructor since July 2009 and delivers car, truck and bus driver training to students in the Galway region. Lee has a long-standing interest in road safety and a personal commitment to helping others share the road in a safe and socially responsible manner.


CPC Trainer of the Year – Stephen Sweeney Letterkenny. Co Donegal. Stephen has been a CPC Trainer since 2008, and was awarded CPC Trainer of the Year following excellent feedback from drivers who attended his training sessions. Stephen engages with his drivers, recognises their experience and expertise and use them as a resource to help ensure key road safety messages are taken on board.


Business – Jacobs Engineering Co. Dublin
Jacobs, an international technical professional services firm, developed its Beyond Zero initiative to create a workplace where safety is to the fore. Through the initiative, employees in their Dublin and Cork offices organised activities to emphasise the importance of road safety. These events included a Drive Safety Week, bike and bicycle safety checks and a Cycle safety week. Beyond Zero activities have inspired many of their employees to switch to cycling and public transport over driving for their daily commute.


Education Pre-School – Claire Barden Educational Services / Learn Early Montessori in Ballymote, Co. Sligo
Learn Early Montessori pre-school in Ballymote, Co. Sligo, owned by Claire Barden, first introduced road safety to its curriculum in 2012.  The aim was to promote road safety awareness to the children and give them the knowledge to stay safe on the road. Through the pre-school’s Stay Safe, Stop and Wait lesson, pupils have developed an understanding of dangers associated with the road.


Education Primary – St. Columba’s Girls National School (GNS), Ballybrack Co. Cork
St. Columba’s GNS in Co. Cork has introduced a student-led initiative to highlight road safety awareness through education, and to empower the children to act responsibly when interacting with traffic. The students monitor a number of entrances into the school grounds to provide a safe environment for their classmates and other users to access the school.


Education Secondary – Patrician High School, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan
Patrician High School, an all-boys secondary school in Co. Monaghan, is teaching Transition Year students about the Killer Behaviours and Driver Distraction through a Road Safety module. Each week, every student has a 40-minute class where a variety of road safety lessons and activities take place. The classes regularly feature guest speakers from the local Garda and Ambulance Services and are supported by the delivery of a weekly road safety message to all school students.


Education Third Level – Institute of Technology, Tralee Co. Kerry
Petrina Comerford, in her role as Vice President for Welfare in IT Tralee Students’ Union, ran an all-encompassing Road Safety Week that targeted not only students of IT Tralee, but all students in the Kerry area as well as members of the general public. The event included a road crash re-enactment where a ‘mock collision’ between a car and a motorcycle was set up. The message of road safety was not limited to drivers but encompassed all road users.


Education Community – Sallins Road Safety Action Group, Sallins, Co. Kildare
Road safety is a significant issue in Sallins, Co. Kildare due to the volumes of traffic passing through the village. In 2018, Sallins Community Council set up a Road Safety Action Group to educate the key audiences in the community (local residents, passing motorists, local authorities, and media) about the issue of road safety and to protect road users locally.


Emergency Services – Tipperary Fire and Rescue Service Social Media Team Co. Tipperary
Drivers’ reaction to emergency service vehicles travelling under blue lights varies dramatically from driver to driver, with many unsure of how to react. Tipperary Fire and Rescue Services’ created the ‘Blue Light Awareness Video’ to educate the public on what they should do when they meet an emergency service vehicle driving under lights and sirens on our roads. The video gives clear simple instructions to drivers and to date it has achieved over 27,000 views on the Tipperary platforms with multiples more across other sites and platforms.


Media – Richard Oakley, Editor, Business Post Co. Dublin
Richard Oakley, while editor of “The Times — Ireland Edition” highlighted the topic of cycle safety in his reporting, focusing on the need for ‘Safe Passing’ legislation. Richard gave a voice to campaigners, encouraging his reporters to cover cycle safety stories and used his editorial position to make the case for safe cycling conditions. He further availed of the platform which his position afforded him by reaching a wider audience via other media channels.


Public Sector – Garda Janet Gough Ging, Co. Kilkenny
Garda Janet Gough Ging developed a plan to get all children in the vicinity of Kilkenny to wear helmets while cycling. With support from Kilkenny County Council, local enterprise and the local signage company, Janet organised the production of personalised safety helmets for the children. She also organised and financed cycling safety classes from a specialist company to train the children in road safety. The scheme will be rolled out further in 2020 in collaboration with Kilkenny County Council and An Garda Síochána.


Road Safety Champion – Gráinne Kealy Thurles, Co. Tipperary
Tipperary woman, Gráinne Kealy, suffered a brain injury and serious facial injuries in a road traffic collision, and now uses her experience to educate others. This year, Gráinne assisted the Road Safety Team in the Thurles Garda Roads Policing Unit to educate young people on the reality of trauma on Irish roads. Delivered to over 500 people, Gráinne recounts her experience and recovery process to help influence and remind students of the importance of behaving and sitting correctly when travelling as a passenger in a car.


Sustainable Travel – Galway Cycle Bus Co. Galway
Galway Cycle Bus was set up in 2018 by Alan Curran in 2018 to find a safe way of dropping his children to school as part of his daily cycle route. The Cycle Bus has a start (housing estate) and end point (schools) and several intermediate “stops” (entrance to other housing estates) where children and parents can join the “bus”. This is an excellent example of various bodies partnering to enable school children to travel sustainably and safely from home to school. Currently an average of fourteen children participate daily. 


Special Recognition – John Comerford Co. Carlow
John Comerford is a former Station Officer with Carlow County Fire and Rescue who recently retired following 33 years’ service to his community. During his service in this post he trained new colleagues in the Road Traffic Collision Extrication and Trauma team. The people he has tutored have used these skills to save lives in their own counties all over Ireland.


Special Recognition – An Garda Síochána Bantry District Bantry, Co. Cork
Bantry District Gardaí designed a virtual reality experience to highlight the dangers of driver distraction, speeding and not wearing seat belts. The programme was so successful it has now gone from a small local pilot to a national roll out. In the coming year, it is aimed that at least 100,000 people will take part in the experience.


Special Recognition – Daniel Daly, Co. Offaly
Daniel Daly is a student at Banagher College, Co. Offaly who has been blind since age six.  As part of a school project, Daniel undertook an accessibility and road safety audit of Banagher in which he found that those with disabilities cannot travel independently and that there is a need for a second controlled crossing in the town. Daniel took his concept of road safety out of the classroom and into the community, raising awareness and driving discussion on issues concerning road safety, accessibility and disability.