Guyanese road safety campaigner wins Commonwealth award

Queen Elizabeth II today recognised Guyanese acti-vist, Denise Dias as the 17th Commonwealth Point of Light in honour of her “exceptional voluntary work campaigning for better road safety regulations following the tragic death of her daughter, Alicea”.

A release from the British High Commission said that in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London on 19-20 April, the Queen – as Head of the Commonwealth – is thanking inspirational volunteers across the 53 Common-wealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond.

The release said that by sharing these stories of service, the Heads of Govern-ment meeting will celebrate inspirational acts of volunteering across the Commonwealth and help inspire others.

Dias set up the Alicea Foundation in 1997, also known as ‘Mothers in Black’  following the death of her 17 year old daughter Alicea in 1996 in a road accident caused by a drunk driver. With other grieving mothers and concerned citizens she organised a weekly one-hour vigil outside Parliament buildings. For four years mothers and supporters of Mothers in Black stood silently dressed in black with pictures of their lost loved ones until the eventual road safety legislation was passed. Amendments to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act in 2002 saw enforcement of the use of helmets, seat belts, breathalysers and radar guns.

Denise Dias (left) being congratulated by British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn.

The release said that each Commonwealth Point of Light will receive a personalised certificate signed by the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. The award for Dias will be presented on 14 April 2018 at Pakuri Village during a Commonwealth Big Lunch by British High Commis-sioner Greg Quinn.

Dias was quoted in the release as saying “I am so shocked and so honoured.  Even though I haven’t got Alicea in my life now she continues to save so many lives across Guyana”

Quinn said: “Denise has been a tireless campaigner on road safety.  I have been humbled by her work, especially given the tragic circumstances surrounding it.  She is, without question, a very deserving recipient of a Points of Light Award and it is an honour for me to have the opportunity to congratulate her on this occasion.”

Points of Light began in America under President George H. W. Bush and today over 6,000 US Points of Light have been recognised.

Commonwealth Points of Light is a continuation of this programme – with a special series of awards recognising inspirational volunteers throughout the Commonwealth in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in April. One volunteer will be recognised from each of the Commonwealth countries in the 53 week days preceding the Heads of Government meeting.

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