British Empire Medals a ‘memorial’ for our daughter, say road safety campaigners

A husband and wife have said being awarded British Empire Medals (BEMs) for their work as road safety campaigners is a fitting “memorial” for their late daughter.

George Atkinson, 77, and Giulietta Galli-Atkinson, 76, have helped to introduce tougher sentences for drivers who harm pedestrians during more than 25 years of work.

The couple, from Rugby in Warwickshire, started campaigning for change after their 16-year-old daughter Livia was tragically killed walking home from ballet when a driver mounted the pavement in Enfield, north London, in 1998.

They have now been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours list for their services to road safety.

Teenager Livia, who was killed following a collision with a car on the pavement in 1998
Livia was killed following a collision with a car on the pavement in 1998 (Family Handout/PA)

“But we’re very humbled and delighted to have won it because it acknowledges what we’ve done with road safety.”

Mrs Galli-Atkinson said: “It’s fantastic. It was a surprise [and] we’re honoured, because it’s great recognition.

“Apart from anything else, it’s a suitable memorial for our daughter Livia for all the work that we have done.

“We’ve contributed to something that we’ve really believed in needed doing.”

Mrs Galli-Atkinson said the couple felt compelled to act immediately after Livia’s death due to its sudden and violent nature, and because they had read of similar incidents in the newspapers that were “not treated seriously”.

She said: “We could see what other campaigners like RoadPeace and Brake were doing, and we supported them.

“But at the same time, we wanted to do our own thing… where we could see that perhaps we could be more vociferous.”

A memorial garden for Livia in north London
The family built a memorial garden for their daughter in north London (Family Handout/PA)

They have also been a driving force and regular contributors behind initiatives including Safe Drive Stay Alive, which has delivered road safety training to around 100,000 secondary school children across the country.

The Livia Awards was established by the couple to recognise a Metropolitan Police officer each year who is judged to have provided exemplary investigative work in serious and fatal road traffic collisions. They are now in their

Now in their 26th year, the awards are regarded as one of the most important events in the parliamentary road safety calendar.

“The Met have made a lot of mistakes in other areas of crime, but where road policing and collision investigations are concerned, they’ve really tried to step up,” Mrs Galli-Atkinson said.

“Where there has been meritorious service, we need to be able to show how it can be done, not only in London.

“[There are] new generations of roads policemen coming in so they need to know this is what is expected, this is what families expect of you.”

A memorial garden for Livia was built adjacent to the site of their daughter’s collision in Enfield and opened in 1999, to allow the family to leave a lasting floral tribute.

Mrs Galli-Atkinson said the garden was a “lovely space”, adding: “[It] not only allows us to give something back to the people of Enfield for their kindness, but it also allows us to raise the profile on the issues that we care about.”

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