Memorial garden to provide lasting tribute to victims of south Lincolnshire road crashes

Back: Geoff Bourne, Alistair Arundell, John Siddle, Niel Mugglestone, Barrie Rawlings, front Maureen Dennis, Amanda Meeds, Anne Bourne, Barbara Blatherwick
Back: Geoff Bourne, Alistair Arundell, John Siddle, Niel Mugglestone, Barrie Rawlings, front Maureen Dennis, Amanda Meeds, Anne Bourne, Barbara Blatherwick

A project has been launched to create a memorial garden in South Lincolnshire for people who have lost a loved one on Lincolnshire’s roads.

The Lincolnshire Road Victims Memorial initiative aims to provide an area for families, friends, colleagues and all touched by such a tragedy to quietly reflect on their loss.

Currently, the site is a strip of grassed land, lined by young lime trees, off Five Houses Lane, in the woods at Wyberton.

On Friday, it played host to the launch of the project.

Those behind the project do not have a fixed idea of how the area will look when it is finished, but are considering such additions as a path, somewhere to sit, a feature of some kind, and a shelter for when it is raining.

It is also being investigated whether it will be possible to scatter ashes at the site.

Funds will need to be raised to pay for the alterations to the site and also cover the lease.

The project is the initiative of Anne Bourne.

Anne lost her daughter, Louise Nuttell, from Swineshead, in a crash on the county’s roads in 2004, a collision which also claimed the lives of three others.

Louise, aged 35, married and a mother to an eight-year-old son, was travelling with three friends to a show in Skegness. She was killed, along with Kathleen Stephenson (50), a mother, also from Swineshead, and Sarah Wilkinson, a mother-of-three, one still a baby, and Anne’s niece, and the driver of the other car, Darren Smith (20) from Friskney, in the head-on crash on the A52 at Friskney.

She said: “I had thought for a long time, with the awful death toll we have on Lincolnshire’s roads, that there ought to be a special place for all of us to remember all of them.”

Anne’s other daughter, Amanda Meeds, survived the crash, but had 27 breaks and fractures.

Of what the memorial would mean, Amanda (52) said: “It will be somewhere to come, sit, and reflect.”

Among those supporting the project is Boston borough councillor Maureen Dennis, who lost her son Graham (34) in 2001 when he swerved to avoid pedestrians on the road and collided with two road signs. He died at the scene.

She said: “In small rural communities like ours, it affects the whole village. My son is one of five young people from Old Leake to have died in road accidents in recent years. Those five are known by everyone in the village. It affects everyone.”

Donations to the appeal can be sent to the following acount at Lloyds Bank: Louise and Sarah Memorial Fund, sort code 30-91-04,account number 01303486.

• Among the supporters of the Lincolnshire Road Victims Memorial project is the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership.

Formed in 2000, the body brings together road safety professionals from a number of organisations with a view to reducing the number of people killed and injured on Lincolnshire’s roads.

Its communications manager John Siddle described the idea of a memorial to the county’s road victims as ‘long overdue’.

He said: “We have had roadside memorials in the county for years and years.

“Some of those have fallen into disrepair for numerous reasons. It could be the family have moved away from Lincolnshire or there has had to be a road improvement by Highways so they have actually had to dig it up and destroy that memorial site which really is almost a double tragedy.”

A memorial garden would also, he said, offer a safe environment to remember those who have been lost.

“Rather than someone putting themselves at risk by the roadside to lay some flowers, there is a better way to do it,” he said. “I think this meets everyone’s requirements.”

The launch of the project comes at a time when the number of people to have died as a result of crashes on Lincolnshire’s roads by this time of year is at a record high – at 23.

However, Mr Siddle stressed that the number of collisions on the county’s roads by this time of year is at a record low.

He said: “It’s sad to say the serious ones that we have had in the first part of the year have transpired into fatals.”

Mr Siddle also warned against long-term comparisons, saying such factors as changes to road networks, road surfaces and even foliage, meant that looking back beyond five years was of no value.

He spoke about the work now going on to best understand why the start of 2016 has seen a spike in fatalities.

“We are looking at all those collisions, sifting though all those investigations, causation effects, similarities, even going back into the history of the drivers and what road safety training they have had,” he said.