THE family of an “incredible young man” who died after being hit by a taxi as he walked home from a night out have launched a charity in his memory.
Ross Paterson, 23, a former student at Richard Huish College, is thought to have died instantly after he was struck while crossing the Obridge Viaduct in the early hours of Sunday, March 16.
An inquest to establish exactly what happened has yet to take place.
While dealing with the ordeal of their son’s death, Ross’ family have channelled their grief into creating charity Get Home Safe.
It aims to raise awareness, so those planning a night out in town make sure they know before they set off how they are going to get home.
Helen Evans, a medical PA at Mus-grove Park Hospital and Ross’ aunt, set up the charity with a group of Ross’s family, including his dad, Gerry, and elder sister, Adele, 24, her nephew’s close friends and her hospital colleagues.
She is the first member of Ross’ family to speak publicly about the tragedy.
“He was one really incredible young man,” she said. “You sort of read about it and think it’s never going to happen to you, until you get that phone call.
“It’s very, very hard, really horrendous. The most difficult part is that you are never going to see him again. That hurts.”
Ross, a sports journalism graduate who had been making his way home after a night watching football with friends, was destined for bigger and better things, says Helen.
“Setting up Get Home Safe has helped me in my grief. He’s the type of boy who would have made a massive impact. This charity is his legacy.
“I thought I could do something just for him, and his memory. What started as an idea has now grown very quickly, and the feedback has been really, really positive – I’ve been blown away.
“If we can help one family avoid going through what my family are, we’ll have achieved something.”
Get Home Safe became a registered charity on June 13.
“Obviously it’s about getting this in people’s minds,” says Helen. “I don’t want to preach, and say ‘stop having a fun night out’.
“But it’s a warning to boys as well as girls that the dangers are out there.
“It’s also about how we can help all the services – ambulance, fire, police – who unfortunately are the first respondents when things like this happen.”
Taxi firms Ace and A1 are working closely with Get Home Safe to affiliate their companies with the cause.
Too often not having enough money to pay for a taxi fare at the end of a night was one of the key reasons why people ended up not choosing the safest path home, Helen said.
“But I’m sure your parents would rather you rang up at 4am saying you haven’t got enough money for a taxi than having the police knocking on their door.”
The charity wants to get the message out in eye-catching posters across town – courtesy of Emma Design by Pie – and in bars and nightclubs, as well as through awareness-raising talks in schools, colleges, and other arenas.
Helen and others are set to spread the word at Somerset College and Richard Huish College during freshers’ week.
She said: “We’ve got a target area of pubs and clubs in the town centre who are quite happy to take the posters, as are the railway and bus stations.
“It has been pretty mad since March, but it’s worth it. All of us on board are determined to make a difference.”
The charity’s official launch will be on Friday, August 1 at Taunton Vale Sports Club, Gypsy Lane.
Follow the campaign on Twitter @GetHomeSafe23, via its website, which is launching in July, or email firstname.lastname@example.org