Parents launch drink drive campaign

Danny Birch and sister Jordan and (below) the wreckage of the car
Danny Birch and sister Jordan and (below) the wreckage of the car

LOVED ones of a Wigan man who was killed in a drink-drive smash have launched a new safety campaign.

Danny Birch’s relatives bravely spoke out this week on the second anniversary of his death to warn others not to make the same mistake he did. And they have even planned to put on show the wreckage of his car which ploughed into a wall close to their Standish home after a night out in Chorley.

The wrecakge of the car

The wrecakge of the car

Why the 23-year-old took to the wheel and what exactly caused the fatal collision will forever remain a mystery, due to a lack of witnesses, but parents Stuart and Helen Birch want to reveal their anguish in a bid to prevent the same happening to others. Danny was less than half a mile away from his home, the White Crow pub in Worthington, when the accident happened on Wigan Road on March 18, 2012.

The Birches are now working with Wasted Lives, the long-running local campaign to reduce deaths and injuries among young drivers, to highlight that it only takes one bad decision to devastate many lives.

Until now the fact Danny had been drink-driving wasn’t public knowledge, but his parents have courageously decided that it should be: so that lessons can be learnt.

They say he was a young man who had never been in trouble before and was firmly against drink-driving and so a drink-related crash came as a complete shock to family.

“It was a really tough decision for us to start this campaign because we want to protect him,” said Helen.

“But knowing the type of person that Dan was, he would have wanted us to do this. If he thought he could save one person, he would have been the first one there and that’s why we don’t want to feel his death was in vain and that’s why we wanted to put ourselves forward, even though it’s the hardest decision.

“He’s never been in trouble with the police, he was a happy-go-lucky lad who would do anything for anybody.

“Nobody could understand it. Anybody who knew him all said he was the one that would drive people home and not drink himself. That night was totally out of character.”

The wreckage of his car is due to be put on show in Wigan in the coming weeks, as a visual example of just how destructive drink-driving can be.

“There’s a massive stigma associated with drink-driving almost to the point where people think they deserve it,” said Helen in an exclusive interview with the Wigan Observer.

“This was a young lad that made one bad decision though.

“He was the centre of our family, he had never been in any trouble, he had raised thousands and thousands for charity, he was an officer in the Boys’ Brigade who played last post on Remembrance Day and would do anything for anybody.

“Up to the point when we were told he was over the limit, absolutely everybody was saying that there wouldn’t have been any alcohol involved because it just wasn’t him.

“For some people, you have in your mind that this happens to people who have been troublemakers since school and are always in bother with police. This is not Danny, this can happen to anyone and people need to know that.

“I’m not going through the rights or wrongs, I am not debating drink-driving, there is no debate about it. What I’m here for is to let people know the devastating impact.”

Danny was driving home after a night out in Chorley and was just yards away from home when he lost control and crashed into a brick wall.

He wasn’t speeding and the reason behind his loss of control will never be known. His family were informed by the police and their lives changed forever.

Part of the campaign, named “Dan Birch: almost home”, involves his parents’ reminding families that even as their children get older, they still need support.

It was their belief that he was working at his job at Madisons Bar on King Street that night but a change of plan saw him go out for a drink.

“Would I have been cross if he had turned up with a £40 taxi bill? Of course I would but I would rather have that any day,” added Helen.

“People need to know that just because they’re that little bit older, your mum and dad are still there for you, you’re still their baby and they’d do anything for you.

“Daniel paid with his life for his mistake but he also paid with ours because we are shattered. We are not the people that we were. We are not the family that we once was. It has changed everything.”

Danny lived in the White Crow pub with his family, which includes sister Jordan, now 19, and younger brother William, who is now nine.

His future was bright. He also worked at the White Crow to help run it with his family after helping them raise money to buy it outright.

“He had the most amazing future in front of him. This was all going to be his,” added Helen. “He had everything to live for but he lost it because of one mad decision. It’s hard to put into words but it has absolutely devastated our whole family.

“I remember my last words to him. As he was going out the door, he said ‘see you later mum’ and I just said ‘see you later son, have a good night and be careful.’”