“Im Alice Cutler, a solicitor from Southampton. Ive been invited to take part in the Miss England semi final after auditioning for a place in the Wildcard round . I am being sponsored in the competition by Cutler Developments , my own property developing business.
I am using the platform of being a Miss England semi-finalist to highlight a cause which means everything to me- Brake – The Road Safety Charity.
It seemed the perfect time to do so this week in particular as it was recently Road Safety Week 2023.
Im also supporting PAPYRUS – Preventing Young Suicide, both causes are my preferred Beauty with a Purpose projects.
When you lose someone you love, or someone is seriously injured in a road traffic collision, there is a tendency for them to become simply a statistic.
In 2015, there were 1,731 fatalities in road traffic crashes, with a further 22,137 people seriously injured. My Mum, Tereasa, was one of the 1,731 and I, my brother Daniel and cousin Joe were three of the 22,137.
This is our story.
On the 10th June 2015, I left my family home for what would be the last time. I was living with my Mum and brother (as well as our Labrador, Titch) at the time as my Dad had passed away from cancer when I was 9 years old. I had also lost all of my grandparents at this point.
We were driving along the A31 near Wimborne, having just left the funeral of my Aunt Trisha, my Mum’s sister who we lost suddenly in her early forties, to head to the wake 20 miles away.
At around only 4 miles from the funeral, we collided with a black BMW who was on the wrong side of the road. My Mum died at the scene, with my brother, cousin and I all suffering serious, life changing injuries. Amongst other injuries, I suffered from a broken back, Daniel suffered from a perforated bowel and had to have emergency surgery to save his life and Joe suffered a perforated liver and fractured sternum.
At the time, we were unaware that the other driver was likely suffering from the come-down effects of cannabis and ecstasy, traces of which were found in his blood, and which had contributed to drowsiness causing him to fall asleep at the wheel.
Ultimately, the driver admitted to causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for 4 years and 4 months. At the sentencing hearing, I felt that I owed it to Mum to speak and give her the voice which was taken from her. We didnt want to be the silent voice of a bereaved family or simply another statistic; we were real people, this was our real life and this was our Mum.
After the crash, I moved in with my Aunt Julie and Uncle Steve who were kind enough to give us the support and shelter we needed. Julie and Steve support has continued to this day, although Julie sadly passed away in October 2022.
One of the first things I did after the crash was to set up a fundraising page in my Mums name. We wanted to raise money for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, who had saved my brothers life by airlifting him to hospital for emergency surgery. We managed to raise £3,360, contributing towards a new air ambulance that they purchased shortly after.
My second job was to get my life back on track. There were some pretty bleak days, weeks and
months where I questioned how I was going to be able to go on.
This is why PAPYRUS – Preventing Young Suicide is a cause I can relate to and one which I am keen to support as, in my darkest days. I sought out and was lucky enough to get the support I needed to help me get through it. Not everyone is so lucky, so I am keen to do what I can to support a service providing help for others in need.
Ultimately, I knew what Mum (as well as Dad, Trisha and my grandparents) would have wanted for us to carry on, achieve our dreams and live a life she would be proud of in spite of our circumstances. I didnt want to be defined by the tragedies I had suffered, but to harness the strength and resilience they had built in me to make the best possible life for myself.
My world 8.5 years on looks very different now. I managed to get into the University of Southampton to study law and am currently a qualified commercial property solicitor working at Foot Anstey LLP, after completing my two years of training at Clifford Chance LLP in London (one of the top 5 law firms in the world). I also now have my own property investment and development company born out of my passion for property from all those years of watching Grand Designs and Homes Under the Hammer.
It took a huge amount of determination to get here but I am so proud of my achievements.
The Miss England 2024 competition for me is a platform through which to tell my story, a story which is both (hopefully) an inspirational tale of overcoming adversity to achieve your dreams as well as a cautionary tale.
On average, there are 5 fatalities and 61 people seriously injured in road traffic accidents each day in the UK. This week, being Road Safety Week, is a time to remember that behind each statistic is a real story, real people and real impact of accidents on our road.
People take risks that they shouldn’t whilst driving, be that, I am only one glass over the limit, or I know I am ok after taking XYZ , or the speed limit is only a target. These are decisions that ultimately make our roads unsafe.
When driving in a car, even if you trust yourself and your ability, you can often be at the mercy of others who may not have made the right choice as we were on 10th June 2015.
Going into the festive season, I implore you to take a minute to consider your choices before getting behind the wheel of a car and to remember that each day there are 5 families mourning a much loved, much missed loved one.”
Brake is a road safety charity working with communities and organisations across the UK to stop the tragedy of road deaths and injuries, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and support people bereaved and seriously injured on roads.
They have been working since 1995 to make a difference across the UK.
Click the logo to find out more or visit www.brake.org.uk
Get your Road Safety Week resources
However you want to take part in Road Safety Week, Brake have got resources to help you.
They have guidance for taking part, speed facts and figures, posters, images to share on social media, films and our stopping distances calculator to test your knowledge.
- Read the Toolkit for participants once you sign up to the campaign – this simple guidance on how to take part gives you the facts about speed, tips to start a conversation and images and words to share on social media.
- Share the I’m taking part image attached to this email on your social media channels. Don’t forget to tag us @brakecharity and use #RoadSafetyWeek.
- Take part in the #Brake5 Challenge – our Road Safety Week fundraiser to raise awareness of 5 road deaths every day.
- Teaching road safety to children and young people? Go to Resources for educators to get lesson plans, assemblies, and other activities to help you teach children and young people about road safety. Use our Kids’ manifesto for safe and healthy journeys to call for 20mph speed limits near your school.
- Are you from the police, fire and rescue, ambulance or other medical services? Go to Resources for emergency services for tools to help you highlight the vital work you do to prevent road crashes, reduce casualties and care for road victims.
- Whether you employ people who drive for work, or personal use, go to Resources for employers for ideas and activities to help you manage driver speed and shout out for road safety in your community.