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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  15 May 2006

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WEDDINGS DRIVE MOTORISTS TO DRINK

THOUSANDS of wedding guests are falling foul of drink drive laws this year, according to new research from safe driver champion, Privilege Insurance.  32% drivers at weddings admitted to drinking over the legal limit while 9% of drivers took to their cars within 3 hours of having a drink.

In the most serious cases, 16% drivers consumed
more than 10 units of alcohol - of which, 9% then got behind the wheel of their car. Of those drivers who have driven after drinking at a wedding, 18% drove over 50 miles.  And it seems that alcohol is affecting these motorists' driving abilities with 13% of those who have driven after drinking at a wedding admitting to driving dangerously - including breaking the speed limit, taking their eyes off the road and drifting out of a lane. 

But it is not just drivers to blame. The Privilege research shows that 3% of wedding guests have actively given alcoholic drinks to other guests at a wedding, knowing they were later going to drive. However, a conscientious 5% of guests have refused to get in a car when the driver has been over the limit.

As a result of the findings, Privilege is urging wedding guests to take a taxi number with them or make alternative arrangements to ensure they don't
drink and drive after enjoying the festivities of a wedding.

Ian Parker, Managing Director of Privilege Insurance, said:- "While drink driving is traditionally associated with Christmas, it's also usual to enjoy a couple of glasses of bubbly at weddings. But it is clear that many wedding guests are putting themselves and other road users at risk by being over the legal limit when they head home from wedding receptions.  Although we want people to have a great time at weddings this summer, we urge guests not to get into their cars until they've allowed sufficient time for the alcohol from the night before to leave their system - waiting roughly 1 hour after the festivities have finished for every unit of
alcohol consumed. For example if you've had a glass of champagne and 3 pints of standard strength lager, it would be advisable to wait for at least 7 hours once you've finished drinking, before getting back in the car."

Roo are the champion!

WAYNE ROONEY may be in doubt for the World Cup, but thanks to a city council groundsman, his younger brother is on winning form!

Liverpool City Council's Peter Conroy, who maintains the football pitch where John Rooney and his team mates train, has been named the North West and West Midlands Groundsman of the Year by the Football Association (FA) - for the 3rd time.

His meticulous upkeep of the pitches in Walton, helped John Rooney and the rest of his under-15 team scoop the English National football trophy on 6 May 2006.  On Thursday 11 May 2006 John and his team mates where the first to congratulate Peter and thank him for his hard work on a football pitch at Walton Soccer Centre.

Peter who first won in 2002 and again in 2005 has worked at Walton Sports and Soccer centre since it opened in 1999.  He said:- "I'm really pleased that I've scooped the title again, although I don't want to take all the credit for it, as it's a team effort.  I'm now automatically entered into the national finals which are held in September where I'm up against all the regional winners, so fingers crossed that the team will do well again."

It is the groundsman's responsibilities to maintain the five grass pitches at Walton Soccer Centre which includes cutting the grass to the right length, planting new seeds, fertilising the pitch, ensuring that health and safety rules are adhered to and being responsible for the overall management of the pitches.

Council leader, Warren Bradley, said:- "The quality of the football pitches is a great credit to Peter and his team, and they deserve to get this recognition from the FA.  We're very proud that in Wayne Rooney we have a local lad who carries the hopes of our national team on his shoulders. The whole country is holding its breath that he recovers in time. It is good to know that Peter's skills are helping develop the next generation of top-class footballers from Merseyside.  Peter's prize and the achievements of the under 15s is a double celebration and it's wonderful to have so many achievements."

Liverpool Boys under-15s faced more than 300 young players and 202 schools throughout the tournament which resulted in the team facing Swansea in the final at Anfield. The Liverpool team beat the Welsh challengers 1-0.

Manager of the team Tom Wyatt said:- "We're so fortunate to be able to train on such a well-maintained pitch and I am positive that playing football on this kind of surface can only improve the team's performance.  Other teams are really envious of the facilities we have at Walton Soccer Centre and it has reached the point where they are willing to give up a home advantage just to play on our pitch!  We're delighted that Peter has won the award, he works so hard and really deserves the recognition."

SIMON WESTON LAUNCHES VODAFONE LIFE SAVERS AWARDS

MERSEYSIDE SCHOOLS TO HELP STAMP OUT HOAX 999 CALLS!

YES, the Vodafone Life Savers Awards are launched next week with a national schools campaign targeting young pranksters who make an estimated 50,000 hoax 999 calls a year.  And there’s the warning that persistent abusers who endanger lives and annually waste £84 million of taxpayers money risk having their mobiles cut off if police trace calls back to them.

The Hoax Impact campaign is being spearheaded by Simon Weston following a successful trial in West Berkshire. Now, the Falklands veteran is writing to Head Teachers in Merseyside, with details of how their school can get involved.  And to help, Vodafone has commissioned 10,000 posters designed by teenage art student Sophie Ness with the message: ‘Hoax Calls Waste Time, Waste Money, Waste Lives’.  The poster, which won a Hoax Impact competition for pulling no punches, features haunting images of Sophie’s classmates – some dramatically blanked out by a red cross.

Hoax Impact was initiated by The Vodafone UK Foundation and developed with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, West Berkshire Education and Business Partnership and neighbouring schools.  The campaign encouraged schoolkids to use photography and other media as part of their curriculum to devise a special poster to illustrate the devastating effect spoof calls can have on the hard-pressed emergency services.

Life Savers judge Simon Weston said:- “I know better than most what it is like to be rescued, and I have a profound respect for the brave men and women of our emergency services.  That’s why I’m delighted to support anything that will make their job safer and easier.  Hoax Impact can make a real difference by raising awareness – and I am appealing to schools to join with Vodafone to deliver this vital message to kids.”

Vodafone is now bringing the Hoax Impact campaign to Merseyside to coincide with the launch of its annual Life Savers Awards, which honour men and women in the emergency services who have saved the life of another - often risking their own in the process.

Vodafone UK spokesperson, Ally Stevens said:- “The Life Savers Awards demonstrate the amazing work undertaken by our emergency services. From experience, we know the last thing these unsung heroes need is the pressure of hoax callers wasting time - and putting lives at risk.  Mobile phones are not a toy and should be used responsibly. That’s why we’re launching Hoax Impact with the message to youngsters: ‘Hoax calls waste time, waste money, waste lives’

Chief Fire Officer, Iain Cox, from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, who helped pioneer the campaign, said:- “Hoax calls put firefighters and resources in the wrong place at the wrong time - which could have disastrous results when there’s a real emergency and lives are at stake.  We want to educate young people about the risks and ask them - how would you feel if it was your family who needed us – would you think it was funny to send a fire engine out on a hoax call then?  Hoax Impact is a tremendous success because it allows us to deliver these messages in a creative and memorable way.”

Vodafone has become an Ambassador for the emergency services after creating the Life Savers Awards 5 years ago as a national tribute. The Awards also show how mobile phones have revolutionised the vital link between the public and the emergency services, now becoming an essential part of anyone’s first aid kit.  The organisers are now seeking nominations from anyone who has saved the life of another in extraordinary circumstances during the last 2 years.

A celebrity judging panel including Nell McAndrew, Claire Sweeney, Martin Kemp and Myleene Klass – helped by the Royal Humane Society - will select the 10 most inspiring stories.  The winning Life Savers will be congratulated by the Prime Minister at a special reception at 10 Downing Street this autumn as well as being honoured at a star-studded event in London.

Nominations to the Life Savers Awards can be made by contacting the awards hotline on 0870 902 3333 or visiting www.vodafone.co.uk/lifesavers.

Teachers wishing to know more about the Hoax Impact campaign are invited to email or log on to staywise.co.uk.

There will also be a specially-produced WebTV programme taking place on Thursday May 25 3.00 to 3.30pm, where Life Savers judge Simon Weston will join Dave Phillips, Community Manager of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Ally Stevens from Vodafone to discuss how local schools can get more involved with the Hoax Impact campaign as well as how to nominate someone for a Life Savers Award – simply log onto webchats.tv.

People are invited to submit questions to the panel prior to the broadcast, or during the programme itself. The show will remain permanently archived on webchats.tv

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