experience

Law ‘must be changed’ to stop more deaths like Steven’s

The family of a man who tragically died after the car he was in was hit by a concrete block have released an emotional video.

Steven Oscroft, from Shirebrook, was killed[1] when a giant chunk of masonry from a builder’s truck hit his Hyundai IX35 on July 7, last year.

The 60-year-old had gone for a day out picking strawberries with his wife Denise and their grandchildren when the horrific incident took place near Ollerton in Nottinghamshire.

An inquest into his death earlier this week heard a piece of concrete “came out of a tipper lorry”, hitting his car.[2][3]

Mr Oscroft was left with a traumatic head injury while the passengers were left unharmed, and the inquest heard the building materials on the lorry had not been properly secured.

The driver of the lorry was arrested[4] on suspicion of dangerous driving, but was later released without charge after police concluded there were no offences against the driver or the haulage company in question.

Now Mr Oscroft’s family are calling for stricter laws on drivers carrying unsecured loads.

His widow Denise, 60, said: “What I’d seen that day and what my grandchildren had seen, it must have been terrible for them. That’s all I keep thinking about – what those kids have seen.

“One minute we’re just taking the grandchildren[5] out strawberry picking and we went for ice cream and then just like that, our lives had changed forever.

“In my eyes, it wasn’t an accident, it could have been prevented had there been a decent netting on the tipper that passed us.

“It was concrete that fell and that netting couldn’t have stopped anything from falling.”

Following the incident Mr Oscroft’s daughters, Becky Marsh and Kelly Kirby, rushed to the scene.

Steven Oscroft was described as a "doting" grandfather
Steven Oscroft was described as a “doting” grandfather

Recalling the day of the tragedy, Becky, 35, said: “She just said: he’s gone, but it wasn’t mum, it was like she wasn’t there, she was in shock.

“I looked at the car and saw there was a huge hole in it and I just went running shouting dad because I just didn’t believe it was true.

“We’d like to see proper sheeting on all trucks and loads not piled high.

“We want to change the securing methods so it’s a full round sheet tucked in at the sides.”

Kelly, 33, added: “It was like an out of body experience, we couldn’t believe it was happening to us.

“And I still think it’s an out of body experience, I don’t think we’ll ever get used to life without dad.

“There seems to be a lot of grey areas with drivers themselves, they don’t seem sure of the regulations.

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“We’re proof that things can fall off and ruin people’s lives.

“There’s no happy ending for us, we’re never going to get Dad back, but we’d like to think that somebody else wouldn’t have to go through this.”

Denise added: “He was so full of life, just happy all the time.

“Kind, caring, he just loved his family and couldn’t do enough for the grandchildren.”

“We’re just on autopilot.

“We’ve stuck together and focused on the grandchildren because Steve would have said: ‘As long as those kids are alright then you’re alright.’

Steven Oscroft's smashed vehicle.
Steven Oscroft’s smashed vehicle.

“We’re taking one day at a time because if you do let yourself think of forever without dad then that’s when it hits you and it gets hard.”

Nottinghamshire Coroner’s Court heard Mr Oscroft died as a result of a road traffic collision after a piece of concrete fell from an uncovered part of a lorry from Paul Wainwright Construction Services, of Hucknall.

Assistant Coroner for Nottinghamshire Gordon Clow said he would be preparing a Preventing Future deaths report and would be requiring Wainwrights to supply evidence that actions are being taken, including improved driver training and working practices.

He said he would also call for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to clarify legislation around securing lorry loads.

Detective Sergeant Adam Cooper, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Our enquiries along with the Coroner’s conclusion cements that Mr Oscroft’s death could have been prevented and perhaps that might serve as some comfort to his loved ones.

“The case also stands as a stark reminder to all drivers and companies to ensure their loads are fit for the roads.

“If not for the good of the law, for their own conscience so that they don’t head out one day and end up with blood on their hands.”

References

  1. ^ was killed (www.derbytelegraph.co.uk)
  2. ^ inquest into his death (www.derbytelegraph.co.uk)
  3. ^ hitting his car. (www.derbytelegraph.co.uk)
  4. ^ arrested (www.derbytelegraph.co.uk)
  5. ^ taking the grandchildren (www.derbytelegraph.co.uk)
  6. ^ head to this page and select “Derbyshire Live news” (www.derbytelegraph.co.uk)

Grateful dad to skydive to raise money for hospital which saved son’s life

A grateful father is going to jump 10,000 ft from an aeroplane in order to raise money for the hospital which saved his son’s life.

18-month-old Jaydon Charles Pritchard was rushed to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool from Ysbyty Gwynedd[1] on April 8 after suffering kidney failure from having ingested seagull droppings[2] in his garden.

The toddler spent 19 days in the children’s hospital where he received blood transfusions and was hooked onto a dialysis machine.

Thanks to the treatment he received at Alder Hey, Jaydon is now doing “much better” and is “back to his usual self” following the traumatic ordeal.

His father, Jonathan Charles Owen, now wants to do what he can “to pay back the amazing staff who saved Jaydon’s life” by raising money[3] for the hospital.

Jaydon spent 19 days at Alder Hey (Image: Jonathan Charles Owen)

In order to do this, the 32-year-old from Amlwch[4] is going to head to Whitchurch in Shropshire and jump out of an aeroplane at 10,000 ft.

“To be honest, I’m not a big fan of heights,” Jonathan said.

“But, I’m so grateful to the amazing staff at Alder Hey, I want to do something to pay them back and make my son proud.”

It has been a difficult month for Jonathan, as well as Jaydon’s mother Tiffany and his grandparents Arwel and Christine.

Jonathan and Tiffany stayed in Ronald McDonald house in Alder Hey for the entirety of Jaydon’s 19 days in the hospital, with the first week-and-half particularly difficult for them both.

“For the first week and a half, we were crying every day. We thought he was gone, it was that serious to start off with. He’d lost a lot of blood and was hooked to a dialysis machine.

“The blood transfusions would take four hours and I remember just holding his hand and watching Peppa Pig. Seeing him being so brave gave us strength at the time,” said Jonathan.

Jaydon’s parents stayed in Alder Hey for the duration of his treatment (Image: Jonathan Charles Owen)

Jonathan works as a lorry driver in Amlwch for Huws Gray who were “very supportive” throughout the process, giving him time off to be at his son’s side in Liverpool.

He says that he got the idea for is upcoming parachute jump – which will take place in September 10 – after seeing so many pictures every day in the wards of Alder Hey of people who had done the same to raise money for the charity.

“I saw posters every day of people skydiving to raise money for the charity and after I saw my son smile for the first time for over a week-and-a-half, I decided I’d do the same.

“I get emotional just thinking about it. To see him battle his way through such a serious illness was quite inspiring. I’m so proud of him for coming through this horrible experience and I can’t express in words my gratitude for the staff at Alder Hey.”

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Thankfully, Jaydon is now “more or less back to himself, the colour has returned to his face” and he is receiving regular check ups at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

To visit Jonathan’s Just Giving page, click here[6].

Let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section below.

References

  1. ^ Ysbyty Gwynedd (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  2. ^ kidney failure from having ingested seagull droppings (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  3. ^ raising money (www.justgiving.com)
  4. ^ Amlwch (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  5. ^ click here (www.dailypost.co.uk)
  6. ^ here (www.justgiving.com)

Partner of YouTuber who died in electric scooter crash joins SAS: Who Dares Wins

The partner of YouTuber Emily Hartridge, who died in an electric scooter crash in London, has signed up to appear on SAS: Who Dares Wins.

ersonal trainer Jacob Hazell, 28, said he decided to take part in the gruelling Channel 4 series to “make peace with the whole situation”.

Ms Hartridge, 35, was involved in a fatal collision with a lorry in Battersea, south London, in July 2019, while riding a scooter gifted to her by Hazell days earlier.

Close[1]

Foxy, Ant, Melvyn and Billy (Channel 4/PA)

Foxy, Ant, Melvyn and Billy (Channel 4/PA)

Foxy, Ant, Melvyn and Billy (Channel 4/PA)

Foxy, Ant, Melvyn and Billy (Channel 4/PA)

In the aftermath, Hazell became the target of online trolls and has since used his social media platform to advocate for better mental health support.

He said: “My experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins was one of the toughest I have ever endured. I am sure most people would say it would be without doubt the toughest. However after losing my girlfriend Emily in 2019, SAS: Who Dares Wins takes second spot.

“It’s fair to say that I was not expecting it to be as challenging as it was for me. It brought up things in me that I have had buried deep down for a very long time. And I am so grateful for the show and the opportunity as since leaving the course, it has helped me face up to and deal with some of those issues, rather than bury them down inside me.

“It helped me make peace with the whole situation. To the fellow recruits, DS, and all of you that work on the show, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

Hazell said he signed up because he felt “very lost in life”.

Rebekah (11).

He added: “After losing Emily back in 2019, I fear sometimes that I have given up in life without her. I needed to prove to myself that I hadn’t.

“I screamed down that cliff during the abseil task, but the fact I walked off that edge proved that I still had some fight left in me.”

Series six will see 21 men and women leave the comfort of their homes and head to Scotland for an unforgiving selection course including tasks built around abseiling, freezing water and chemical weapon attacks.

Among their ranks are a solicitor raised in a Mormon community and a former stripper now working as an aesthetician.

Former soldier Melvyn Downes, 56, has joined Foxy and Billy on the directing staff for this series, led by chief instructor Ant Middleton, who recently severed ties with the show.

Downes, who spent 24 years serving in the British Military, including 11 years in the SAS, is the first mixed race DS to feature.

He said: “I’m incredibly proud to join such an amazing series and it’s an honour to be the first mixed race DS on the series.

“I’m also incredibly thankful for this opportunity, especially at this time in my life. Age is no excuse not to go for your goals, and I’m living proof of that.”

Despite his years of experience, he admitted being wary of the cameras.

He said: “It was an exciting experience but also terrifying as I’ve spent most of my life undercover.

“Once I got over the initial shock of all the cameras, I loved being back in that environment with the fellow DSs, putting the recruits through their paces.”

Earlier this year, Channel 4 severed ties with Middleton over his “personal conduct” and said it would not be featuring him in future series.

But Middleton said it was his decision to quit the programme because it had become a “reality show”.

SAS: Who Dares Wins airs on Sundays at 9pm on Channel 4 from May 9.

PA

References

  1. ^ Close (www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk)

Staffless betting shops: the future for retail?

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The Irish retail betting landscape has come up against its fair share of challenges in recent years, with the introduction of a 2% tax on turnover over €2.5 million, the absence of a central gambling regulator and most recently the closure of all non-essential shops.

But despite these hurdles, fixed costs have remained at a steady level (and in some cases, have increased). 

Colm Finlay is the Founder / Director of BetXS – a subsidiary of Orchadia Systems. He told SBC News that between 85-90% of outgoings for ‘traditional’ shops are fixed, however an increased focus on variable costs can help bring a ‘breath of fresh air’ to the land-based sector.

He said: “Needless to say that the self-service, staffless shops operate on a much lower cost basis when compared to their traditional, manned shop counterparts. What’s happened in Ireland and the UK over the last 10 years or so is that as fixed costs have increased, certain towns and villages no longer have the population base for which to support those shops with high fixed costs. 

“If you look over here in Ireland, it’s not permissible to do single-manning because you’re expected to give your staff breaks after every three of hours of work done. After five hours of work, they are then permitted to take a full hour lunch break. The effect of that is that you can’t really operate a shop on a single-man basis. 

“When you then apply that to the quota of hours that a betting shop can open over the week, you’d really need four or five labour units to keep a betting shop open. From an Irish perspective that’s €100,000 – €110,000 in costs which are fixed and have to be serviced. 

“When you then bolt on the €47,000 in fees to media rights holders, the money that has to be paid to landlords and all of the other fixed costs associated with a manned shop, your fixed costs are exceeding the €200,000 mark with a few variable costs.”

He shared that a shift towards automation and “use of efficient and reliable technology” can help alleviate any risks of human error – with costs equating to approximately 35-40% of traditional shops. These costs, Finlay continued, are expected to drop even further through negotiations with rights holders such as SIS and TRP.

“With BetXS operating between 35-40% of the cost basis, with further decreases to those levels when we have a proper revenue-share / turnover-based arrangement in place with the rights holders, those costs will drop even further,” he continued. 

“What will then happen is that these remote communities can get their betting shops back. From a horse racing perspective, that’s great news. The expected revenue in terms of incomes for horse racing and for the Exchequer has dropped to zero. But we’re going to turn those zeros into something.” 

Now open in Rathcoole, Kilbeggan and Ballivor, all BetXS shops are run on a remote basis – with CCTV, shutters, security systems, displays and lights all controlled using a fully automated solution – and all bets placed and settled via self-service betting terminals (SSBTs). 

But with no carriage of goods, Finlay believes that the Irish land-based sector could wholly benefit from the roll-out of automated betting shops, bringing with it a whole host of benefits for local communities.

He added: “We don’t have a carriage of goods. Betting shops are so well suited to this model. Say if I was to have a shop in Cahersiveen in the ring of Kerry, that shop just has to open up tomorrow – I don’t have to bring any horse racing down there in a horsebox, unlike grocery shops I’m not having to unload a refrigerated lorry full of goods. 

“The broadband carries the content from whatever race track or football ground and brings it into these remote locations. Having no carriage of goods is great and it makes betting shops much more suited to automation – it makes betting shops much more viable.”

When it comes to responsible gambling measures, the BetXS Founder addressed the need for advanced facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence to identify and verify the age of a customer. 

The SSBTs[1] feature high-resolution biometric cameras which require a one-time sign up for bettors which appear to be under the age of 25. 

Finlay also highlighted the cross-network self-exclusion system, with that data then distributed across all Orchadia Systems shops – something which can help reduce levels of problem gambling. 

“Safer gambling is where I truly believe that Orchadia Systems is in a completely different league to the incumbent way of doing things,” he said. “From my experience as an experienced betting shop worker, I’ve received those self-exclusion forms from customers who no longer wish to bet. It’s not a very nice thing for the customer to have to endure. 

“We used to hand out an A4 sheet of paper where bettors had to fill in their name, address etc. They then had to attach a copy of their passport photo which was stapled to the form. This would disencourage people from submitting these details. It’s a very intrusive thing to do – especially given how tough it is for people to recognise that they have a problem gambling issue. 

“At Orchadia Systems, players can self exclude via their mobile application. They don’t need to speak to anyone. What is better is that this is then subsequently deployed to a network of shops operating on the Orchadia Systems platform. 

“That means a customer could call into a betting shop in John o’Groats, self exclude, jump on an airplane to Land’s End, walk into a betting shop and will also be instantaneously self-excluded.”

Reaffirming his belief that responsible gambling is at the front and centre of Orchadia Systems’ operations, Finlay went on to discuss the company’s plans to introduce budgetary, time and sport constraints.

He explained: “Where we step it up even further is that we’re not just limited to self-excluded. In our development pipeline, we’re working on introducing budgetary constraints. If a player is paid on a Friday evening, they go to the pub and try back a few winners – but by Saturday morning, all of their wages could be spent.  

“What we’re planning to do is enable the customers to set constraints – whether that be budget, time, or even sport. These are the kind of problem gambling tools that the industry really needs.

“Self-exclusion is not really a viable solution under the current system. Orchadia Systems[2] aims to change that by bringing a proper, meaningful safer gambling environment to punters all over Ireland, the UK and on a global scale. We’re not stopping here in Ireland, we’re taking this even further – that’s where our aspirations are.” 

With it increasingly likely that fixed costs for bookmakers will increase in 2021 in the wake of the pandemic, the prospect of automated betting shops can act as a cheaper, easier way for betting operators to reach their audience. 

From a bettor’s perspective, these shops can remodel the entire customer journey, with increased opening times and easy-to-use SSBTs meeting the needs of the tech-savvy punter. 

So as the retail sector looks to bounce back from the events of 2020, staffless, automated betting shops could become the ‘new normal’.

References

  1. ^ SSBTs (sbcnews.co.uk)
  2. ^ Orchadia Systems (orchadiasystems.com)