A WOMAN who suffered life-changing injuries after being hit by a van has received a BEM for dedicating herself to promoting road safety in North Yorkshire.
Lauren Amy Doherty, 32, of Knaresborough, was hit by a van while on a night out with friends in August of 2008.
She spent 16-months in hospital with a broken neck where she was told she’d never be able to breathe on her own again and now relies on a wheelchair to get around.
After a long road to recovery, during which Lauren had to accept her permanent disabilities, she formed the Road Safety Talks charity to inform others about the dangers of the roads by sharing her personal story.
She is now a key figure on the ‘Learn to Live’ campaign, working with North Yorkshire Police, fire service and the NHS to advise teenagers on safe driving and the dangers of drink driving and using phones at the wheel.
The bespoke presentations include images and videos of different crossings, but her emotional and personal story is what has a huge impact on audiences.
Lauren’s tireless voluntary work has been recognised regionally and nationally through various awards, but she said the BEM is ‘the greatest honour’.
She said: “When I first started, I was talking to a group of ten children to see how they would react to my message.
“That headteacher has since become a good friend and through word of mouth, other primary schools in the area wanted me to talk to them too.
“The more we promoted ourselves on social media, the more that others wanted us to go in and speak to them.
“But I never would have thought that in the end I’d be talking to thousands across the country and receiving a BEM.”
She added: “I think, really, there isn’t a greater honour than to be recognised for the work I do by the Queen.
“I don’t suppose there is anything greater in this country.”
Lauren credited her friends and family for all their support during her recovery and praised members of North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for their help in delivering her life-saving message.
She said: “When I was in hospital, my family or my friends were always there.
“There wasn’t a day that I was on my own; if I had down days, there was always someone there for me.
“And the thing that I thought to myself was, ‘you have two options, I can get really sad and miserable and not want to do anything, or I just can try to get on with my life focusing more on the things that I would still be able to do instead of the things I can’t do’.”
She added: “Without all the support of my family, friends and colleagues within North Yorkshire Police and fire service, nothing that I do work-wise would be possible.”