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Road fatality support group looking to expand to Omagh

A DERRY-based support group that helps families bereaved by car accidents is looking to expand into the Omagh area and is making campaigning for the A5 dual carriageway a priority once the Covid-19 lockdown ends.

Life After was set up in 2017 by Christopher Sherrard, whose father Wilson had been killed in a collision on the main A6 Derry to Belfast road in August 2016.

Douglas Bridge couple, Marie and Noel O’Brien, who lost two close family members in separate collisions on the A5 road within weeks of each other, were “instrumental” in getting the group off the ground.

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Explaining the beginnings of the organisation, Mr Sherrard said that his mother had received very little support, apart from the PSNI’s family liaison team, in the weeks and months after his father’s death.

“There was no-one just to go in and take the pressure off a family in that bad period of the first three months,” Mr Sherrard said.

In order to remedy this, the support group offers counselling, holistic therapies and advocacy support for sorting out benefits.

Life After currently supports around 50 families in Derry, Strabane, Newtownstewart and along the Causeway Coast, but had been looking to expand even further before the coronavirus pandemic intervened.

As well as a committee that meets regularly, Life After also has a steering group involving a host of organisations including local politicians and the PSNI.

Recently, it successfully lobbied for the implementation of stop signs at a notorious junction in Armoy, Co Antrim, where American tourist, Michael Munroe, was killed in September 2018.

Once the lockdown ends, the support group will be turning its attention to the A5 road and the much delayed plans for a new dual carriageway.

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“We are aware that there have been a lot of deaths on that stretch of road, It’s always been a major concern for the families of Life After,” Mr Sherrard said.

“Marie and Noel have been stressing greatly about this problem with the A5. Marie has been on about it since we started the group and the fact that she lost two family members on that road. It has now got to the stage where we have enough families in that area.

“We will be speaking to local councillors in Omagh as soon as the lockdown is over. It’s on our agenda,” Mr Sherrard said.

But, in the meantime, he urged any family who may need the support offered by Life After to get in touch with the group and they would do their best to help.

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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