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Kill your speed, not a child- that’s the message from schoolchildren in Bedlington as they hope for soapbox glory
02 Jul | 11:17

Pupils from Meadowdale Academy in Bedlington are hoping to race to victory in their second year taking part in the Greenpower Education Trust Soapbox Goblin and F24 class tournaments however, one schoolgirl wanted to make a powerful statement with their entry.

Brooke Barnfather, aged 13, wrote into her local police station to see if officers could help her promote a strong message around the dangers of speeding.

Brooke said: “I wanted to use this opportunity to teach others about how dangerous speeding can be and how important it is to drive safely. We’ve had police officers come in and speak to us about road safety so I wanted to share that message to others as well- that’s how ‘Kill your speed, not a child’ came about.”

The local Neighbourhood Officers who received Brooke’s letter thought it was a fantastic idea and got the force’s design team to create slick artwork to fit in with the children’s design that also had a ‘wheelie’ special speed safety message.

Northumbria Police’s Chief Constable Winton Keenen said how important the message was and how proud he was to support the children with their project.

He said: “We do a lot of work within schools with our Mini Police and around speed awareness so to see how positively that had impacted Brooke and the other children was fantastic. We were more than happy to help spread their message of driver safety and get people thinking about the potential dangers and consequences of speeding and the lasting impact those consequences can have.

“I wish them the best of luck with their future races and I hope they know we’ll be cheering them on.”

The pupils built the cars themselves and can reach speeds of up to 30mph on average. Safety is key when it comes to the design and all the cars are built to ensure the protection of the drivers.

The pupils built three cars in total- two Goblin Class cars and an F24. The Goblin Class cars raced at Gateshead Stadium yesterday and all drivers enjoyed a challenging day of racing in drag and slalom events, displaying superb incident-free driving, battling alongside nearly forty other schools.

The F24 will be gearing up for glory at Croft Race Circuit in Darlington on July 9, where the children will be racing against others including 16-year-olds.

Mr. Daley, the teacher who started the initiative at Meadowdale Academy and is looking to steer the kids on the road to safety, said how much the children learned from the project.

He said: “We’re so proud of all of the effort and passion the children have put into this project. It means so much to them and everyone here at the school.

“Gateshead Stadium was a perfect testing ground for the children's mechanic skills. There were no medals this year but all had huge fun and already looking forward to building cars again next year. 

“The skills and life lessons they learn are limitless. They learn about physics, road safety, design and engineering and you can see how these new skills are helping the children develop.

“Competing with other schools in the regional competitions is very exciting for the children, and we’re very grateful to Northumbria Police and partners who have been involved in ensuring the children are kitted out and race ready.”

Meadowdale Academy's Headteacher, Mrs Allison, said: “This is such a wonderful opportunity for the children to both build and race cars within the same year. It’s a marvellous experience which the children will never forget."

The safety equipment the children wear, including the helmets, gloves and race suits was made possible thanks to funding from Draeger, Head of Health and Safety for Draeger, Alan Fitzhenry, said: “These children are really passionate about safety and it’s great to see. It is important to get young children educated on road safety and we were more than happy to contribute to that in any way we could.”

Inspector Mick Aspey, one of the officers Brooke wrote to, said how delighted he was when he received the request to step into the pit stop and help.

He said: “It’s amazing to see how enthusiastic the children are and the respect I have for them is boundless and we were delighted to be able to help them in some way.

“I wish all the children the best of luck for their races and with their passionate and respectful attitude towards safety and protecting others, I wouldn’t be surprised if I see some of them going into policing in their future careers- I know our roads would be safer!”

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