A CHARITY has been set up in memory of a popular teenager who died after a horrific road traffic collision in north Dorset more than three months ago.
The Ben Andrews Foundation will start by raising funds for the emergency services, but family and friends hope it will go on to boost public awareness of road safety issues.
The idea for the charity came from 18-year-old Laura Haskell, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of her 19-year-old friend Ben’s VW car when the head-on crash happened at the A354 Pimperne roundabout near Blandford on May 7.
She woke up in hospital with a broken neck, which initially threatened to leave her paralysed, and other fractures.
“I didn’t know Ben had died until a couple of days later,” she said.
“They didn’t know how I would react so Mum waited until I was settled into hospital to tell me.
“I don’t think it’s hit me properly,” she said.
Laura knew Ben before she went to work with him in Tesco’s.
“In February we started to be really good friends and see each other quite a lot. You could just tell him anything. He wouldn’t tell a single soul. He gave the best advice and the best hugs.
“Everyone says he had a heart of gold. No-one had a bad word to say about him,” she said.
She spent two weeks in hospital before being allowed home to Charlton Marshall, and at the beginning of July decided to set up the charity with the full backing of Ben’s family.
“It’s the foundation that keeps me going. We want to support all the emergency services. We’re going to expand as the foundation gets bigger, but at the moment it’s just the Firefighters Charity. The firefighters had to cut Ben’s car apart to get me out,” she explained.
The foundation’s first event is a car convoy meeting at Stour Meadows car park at 10am and setting off at 11am on Sunday September 9.
It will take in some of Ben’s favourite Dorset places. The event, backed by Southern Subaru, costs £5 per car and participants will receive a window sticker and a wristband. For details of the charity and various events see benandrewsfoundation.org.uk.