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Sunderland mum whose son died in road tragedy to be awarded British Empire Medal for safety campaigning

Violet Atkinson receives an British Empire Medal in the Queen's New Years Honours List.
Violet Atkinson receives an British Empire Medal in the Queen's New Years Honours List.
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A devoted mum from Wearside is to be awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours after her tireless campaigning to improve road safety following the tragic death of her son.

Violet Atkinson, from Sunderland, will be given the prestigious title for services to road safety awareness and education.

Violet Atkinson receives an British Empire Medal in the Queen's New Years Honours List.

Violet Atkinson receives an British Empire Medal in the Queen's New Years Honours List.

Violet’s son Steven died aged just 12 in October 2009 when he was hit by a speeding driver in Chester Road.

Popular Sandhill View School pupil Steven had been out with friends at King George V Park in Pennywell when he was knocked from his bike and killed.

The incident was all the more tragic given that Steven had bravely beaten leukaemia as a youngster.

Since Steven’s tragic passing, Violet has been heavily involved with the road safety charity Brake, calling for tougher sentences for those who choose to drive over the speed limit.

Steven Atkinson, with Niall Quinn.

Steven Atkinson, with Niall Quinn.

Speaking about the announcement of her award today, Violet, 46, of Ford Estate, who is also mum to John, 25, Dawn, 22, and Katie, 11, said: “The campaigning is something I will always do because I feel it is so important.

“We need to get people to realise that those who speed and injure or kill people, they aren’t just affecting their lives but the lives of others too.

“It affects everybody.

“If we can get just one person to slow down and take notice of this, one less person will die.”

Steven Atkinson.

Steven Atkinson.

In November 2014, Violet spoke at the regional launch of Road Safety Week in Sunderland about the importance of raising awareness, while in 2015, her and her family made a short film about Steven’s death.

That film now forms part of a Young Driver Initiative, which educates young drivers about irresponsible driving and has now reached more than 1,500 students and military personnel in the North East.

She added: “The films we have done have got a good reaction from people and we certainly feel like we are getting the message across to everyone who sees them.

“I’m sure Steven would be proud of what me and the rest of his family have done ever since he passed away.”

Violet is now hoping that well-wishers will be able to donate money to allow her to travel to London to receive her honour, as she says she is unable to afford the cost of the trip at present.

Those interested in helping out can contact the Echo on 0191 501 7326.