40th Birthday Commemoration Service – Gordon Samuel Speech

40th Birthday Commemoration Service – Gordon Samuel Speech

Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for coming here today to remember our darling daughter Katie and commemorate what would have been an important stepping stone in her life – her 40th birthday. We welcome our family, including Richard and his family, Katie’s friends, our friends and all the people who have supported us in so many ways since that tragic day, the 18th February 2010.

Today I am standing in the church where on the 12th December 2009 I gave my eldest daughter Katie to Richard as his wife. It was a wonderful day and I know that many of you here now were lucky enough to witness their happiness. I never imagined that just three months later I would be standing in the same place to say a final goodbye to her as a result of the silent killer, carbon monoxide.

And now I’m at St Mary’s again but I’m not returning to the events of that night that took our lovely daughter because I know that you all know what happened, and, since being thrown into this world of carbon monoxide awareness, I have had to repeat the details over and over again to try and make people realise the importance of taking precautions so that they too don’t lose their lives or those of their loved ones to this ‘silent killer’. It isn’t something I find easy to do – I’d much rather be enjoying playing with my wonderful grandsons, Alessandro and Danilo. But I know that by relating the tragic circumstances that led to Katie’s death it makes people understand more acutely the dangers of this gas.

When we lost Katie, we didn’t know what to do – we were in an unimaginable place – you always believe it will be your children burying you not the other way around! In the few weeks before her accident, we’d seen Katie experiencing the happiest moments of her life – her marriage, Christmas as Mrs Haines, her honeymoon in South America and our final time together was watching her blow out the candles on her 31st birthday cake. Carbon Monoxide robbed her and us of future happy times together. We knew that if the same thing had happened to Avril & me, or Adam or Lydia or any of her friends, Katie, as a journalist, would have used her pen and keyboard to warn others and so we felt it was our duty to do all we could to prevent other senseless deaths from carbon monoxide and so set up The Katie Haines Memorial Trust within days of the tragedy.

Since then we’ve been overwhelmed by the support we and the Trust have received. There have been many ingenious methods for raising money – often by people we know and many are here today (and we can’t thank you enough for this) but also sometimes by people we or Katie had never met, such as Jacqueline Jones, who was raising money for 40 charities for her 40th birthday, and we were one of the lucky recipients. Other events include zumbathons, Pampered Chef and swishing evenings, quiz nights, Christmas jumper collections, Farmers Weekly cake and pumpkin sales, the Marston Meysey Village ball, cycle events, several marathons – in which Adam, Richard, his sister Helen and uni friends Amy, Alison and Lucy have all participated and Katie’s uni friend Beth did both the Amsterdam and Boston marathons in one week. Instead of wedding gifts, some have chosen to ask for donations for the Trust; Miki, Richard’s cousin and her husband Richard Holt and Lydia friends, Joanna and Stuart, did just that! Through these events we have raised incredible sums of money, which have, on several occasions been matched by companies. You can find out more about all these events and the people involved in them on our website.

We’ve also received many donations and in particular substantial amounts from the Tanlaw Foundation (run by our friend and Patron Lord Simon Tanlaw), Dr Pat Ingleton, the Adrian Swire Charitable Trust, through the kindness of Lady Judith Swire, and the Hargreaves and Ball Charitable Trust, through a Trustee, Tom West. These donations enabled us to donate £30,000 to Cranfield University towards funding a PhD student, Antony Nyombi, researching carbon monoxide.

Never in a millions years did we imagine we would lose one of our beloved children from carbon monoxide – this ‘silent killer’. When we started to raise awareness, we didn’t know where to begin and had to rely on the support and knowledge of those in the industry and other organisations who’d been striving over many years to make us safe from CO. There are too many people to mention all of them, but to name a few – Baroness Finlay (Co-chair of APPCOG, an official All-Party Parliamentary Group dedicated to tackling CO poisoning in the UK) the MPs Barry Sheerman and Eddie Hughes, Chris Bielby MBE– a stalwart of CO safety and someone who wears many ‘hats’– and to name but three – Director of Stakeholder Liaison, SGN; Chairman, Gas Safety Trust; Chairman, Gas Industry Safety Group), Gail Van Dyke – with whom we worked on our No to CO petition and campaign, Ashley Martin of ROSPA, Jonathan Samuel, Scot Darroch and Sarah Hills of Gas Safe Register, Leigh Greenham of Cogdem, Paul Durose of GasTag, Tim Jack and Adrian Keats at Honeywell (both great supporters of the Trust, Adrian even manning a stand with us at the NUS Conference in Sheffield a few years ago), and other CO manufacturers who’ve donated alarms to us. There are other notable charity campaigners – Stacey Rodgers (who lost her little boy Dominic to CO in an all-electric home), Stephanie Trotter, Lynn Griffiths, Roland Wessling and Molly Maher – all making a difference. We’d also like to thank Jonathan Coates from NatWest, the Trust’s bank – who, for a banker, (apologies to banker my sister-in-law Sue), has been a fantastic support – inviting us to speak and have a stand at their Christmas Sparkle Event at RBS HQ in the City, and in addition to arranging for his colleague Yana to man our stand at the Natwest Charity Day – raising £2,000 for the Trust.

There are also many people who’ve collaborated with us and given up so much of their time to produce our four films and campaigns – Tony and Nerene Halton who made our first video and for which we were only charged expenses, Susannah Hayes and Lee Goulding who made Wake Up, Richard’s cousin Miki and Richard who helped make our third video but also generously gave their time and advice for free. Juan Solari who put together our most recent film. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the highly celebrated and wonderful actors Ken Cranham and Alun Armstrong donate their time to provide the voiceovers for two of our films. Mat Rumbelow and his wife Saskia were close friends of Katie’s and when we were very new to all of this, Mat, without any direction from us, designed and produced our charity brochure, pull-ups, stand, t-shirts and bags for the NUS Conference. We would also like to thank Shahid Rifique who initially helped us set up our website and then Stuart and Jo Hillcock who took it over and have worked tirelessly on updating it together with sending out our newsletters, arranging all the printing for the Trust and designing today’s order of service. I should mention that Stuart and Jo have been revamping our website, so please have a look www.katiehainestrust.com.

It does illustrate some of our highlights – such as being shortlisted in the PR Team of the Year category of the Charity Times Awards 2017, held at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London. Sadly, we weren’t winners on this occasion – the award going to the excellent charity Macmillan Cancer Support, but we were very proud to be a part of the evening. And I’m rather embarrassed to say that I was a double winner in the Merton Civic Awards 2015 organised by the Wimbledon Guardian and Merton Council in recognition of many inspirational people in the borough. Winning The Mayor of Merton’s Award for Outstanding Achievement and the Community Award and being commended in the Courage category too. In the past we have collaborated with RoSPA – The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and we were delighted when they invited us in May 2017 to celebrate their Centenary at a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in the presence of HRH The Duke of York, KG and Princess Eugenie. It was an extremely hot day but Avril & I, Richard, Heather and Lucy had a wonderful time and enjoyed the event and the beautiful gardens.

We are particularly excited to announce that we have a new Patron, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb. Some of you might have seen and heard Suzannah, a British historian and academic on TV and radio. She has presented several programmes, such as one on The Great Fire of London and also a series on the Hidden Killers in the home, covering eras from Victorian time onwards. In the Post War programme she highlighted the dangers of carbon monoxide concluding with the fact that she’d lost a school friend to this killer – that friend was Katie.

Over the past few months we have been helped immeasurably by Rob Lyon, someone who has himself raised so much awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide through his work on Project Shout. He was campaigning for them in London at the time of the Westminster terrorist attack and while walking over the bridge found himself, sadly, a witness to the tragic events that took place on that day. One of the results of this was he decided to leave a successful marketing career to focus more on the Carbon Monoxide campaigning that he is so passionate about. He works on behalf of COGDEM Council of Gas Detection and Environmental Monitoring. The goal of this council is to improve the efficiency and development of the gas detection, gas analysis, and environmental monitoring industry. In addition, however, he wanted to help as many charities as he could in a variety of sectors. He has done this through his initiative Cauz Club. As he says, ‘how could he choose one single cause when so many were deserving of help’. Instead by creating a fashion brand with purpose he would be able not only to give back to many good causes through funding and followers, but also reward customers with a product they would love to own, and would want to encourage others to do the same. Purchase an item of fantastic CAUZ clothing and £5 of the sale goes into the CAUZ club fund which is shared equally by the charity partners – of which we are fortunate to be one.

In addition to all of this, Rob has been filming Avril, Adam and me, and Hannah, Katie’s friend, relating our shared happy memories of Katie. We hope you will watch this on our website in the near future. Those of you joining us at the hotel will see a short film of Katie that Rob beautifully put together for us. It’s difficult to watch but captures her so well. I would mention that another point in his favour, like Katie and our family, Rob is another avid Arsenal supporter!

I should also thank Gilly King for arranging through her contacts for us to have a short piece on Katie, the KHMT and carbon monoxide, in the Arsenal V Manchester United football programme, together with a photo of Katie with the ex-Arsenal player David Seaman.

In addition to the four films we’ve made – which can still be seen on our YouTube channel and website, we’ve also given away, with your help, hundreds of carbon monoxide alarms to other charities dealing with vulnerable sectors of the community, taken stands at university fayres and spoken at various Conferences and events. I’ve spoken at the European Parliament in Brussels and many times to industry stakeholders at the Houses of Parliament. (Thank you Aunty Maureen for getting us in more easily through Portcullis House). We’ve given many radio and TV interviews, and appeared on programmes such Fake Britain and Inside Out South – hard to do but has to be done!

Many people over these nine years have written to thank us because their alarms had probably saved their lives, but they’d only bought an alarm after hearing about Katie’s tragedy and consequently realised that without that much needed warning, the outcome could have been so different. In April 2016 even in our small village of Marston Meysey there were two CO incidents, one relating to a boiler and one an Aga – fortunately both households had CO alarms.

Although we appreciate that legislation has improved on carbon monoxide safety, and we know that government is consulting on further changes, we feel there is still much to be done. As the law stands, it is only necessary for landlords to have a CO alarm if there are ‘solid fuel’ burning appliances – not gas, which is absurd. For gas appliances landlords need a Gas Safety Record/Certificate which, although useful, we feel doesn’t go far enough and is akin to having an MOT certificate and believing your car is automatically safe and won’t break down for a year!

Here we look to your help again. Tell people about carbon monoxide and its dangers, make sure you and your loved ones have your carbon burning appliances regularly serviced by registered engineers and your chimneys swept by registered sweeps. Ask to look at the engineer’s identity card before they carry out the work. Make sure you have an audible carbon monoxide alarm installed in rooms where there is a carbon burning appliance. Something we and other organisations promote is to test both Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms weekly – Test It Tuesday – you need to make sure they are going to work in an emergency. Those who bought an alarm following Katie’s tragedy, please remember that like smoke alarms they have a shelf life of generally between 5-10 years and the alarms will have their end date on them. You will need to replace the alarm when that date has been reached because although you may have changed the batteries, sensors don’t last forever. Remember that although you might have your appliances serviced if you have an adjoining neighbour, carbon monoxide can come through walls. There have been several instances where people have been fatally poisoned or hospitalised because their neighbours haven’t been so diligent. As Which? magazine states: “The more fuel-burning appliances you have in your home, the more carbon monoxide detectors you need.”

If you stay away from home – whether on holiday in hotels, B&Bs, boats, camping or even staying at a friend’s house – take a CO alarm with you. They don’t take up much room and they just give you peace of mind. Our alarm has been with us to Asia, Africa, North and South America and Europe. In Ecuador our hotel rooms had log burners but there were no smoke or carbon monoxide alarms – we made sure we contacted both the travel company and the owners of the individual hotels to raise this with them.

Public Health England tell us that up to 30 people die of CO each year, there are 200 hospital admissions and an estimated 4,000 per year who go to A&E, are treated and sent home. We believe that these figures are an underestimation, as CO poisoning cases are often missed due to the difficulty of diagnosing CO and some cases never reported.

I don’t want to bore you with too much information but I just wanted to keep you all up-to-date on recent events. Some promising news and long overdue is that The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is going to bring forward a review of the CO alarm regulations to bring England and Wales in line with the rest of the UK. Something we have tirelessly campaigned for and to which we have submitted our recommendations. We also welcome the establishment of the International Carbon Monoxide Research Network, which is an opportunity to make sure that international efforts better diagnose and treat carbon monoxide poisoning. And finally, Antony Nyombi’s research at Cranfield has developed a CO-free charcoal briquette, which he hopes to continue developing. This has huge potential significance for health outcomes in the developing world.

I’m sure there are some of you here that love going to music festivals such as Glastonbury, with tents, wellies and BBQs being the order of the day, but these events also bring with them the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. A recent consultation on Festivals by APPCOG found, unfortunately, “the risk of improperly using cooking devices is high due to low public awareness of CO, with 49% of festival goers saying they would use a BBQ inside their tent. A lack of knowledge also prevents people from recognising CO poisoning’s symptoms (which can resemble flu or a hangover), thereby delaying medical help and potentially prolonging exposure.” So what we are saying is have fun, enjoy the music and the atmosphere but stay safe.

It’s never too early to teach your children or grandchildren about alarms – the information gained will stay with them into adulthood. Tell them why you’re testing an alarm. There are also wonderful schemes and initiatives out there for them, such as Safety Seymour run by Cadent Gas. Safety Seymour is a super-hero bear that helps engage with children in a fun way about carbon monoxide. Children can learn all about the dangers of carbon monoxide by taking part in a free workshop that they are delivering to schools. The Workshops fit in with the school curriculum and are aimed at 6-7 year olds and take place in their school. They involve loads of games and role-play activities so the kids learn by having fun – plus they get given an alarm. Cadent also run a Carbon Monoxide competition for children and they are looking for entries from children aged between 5 and 11 in any form of media, such as eye-catching cartoons, videos, models, short stories or poems that are informative and accurate in warning of the dangers of CO poisoning. All winners will receive a prize for themselves and for their school. The closing date is 10th May 2019. Make sure if your children are with childminders or nurseries that they are protected by carbon monoxide alarms.

One of the things we’ve tried to underline is the importance of buying your CO alarm from a reputable manufacturer and make sure any alarm you buy is marked to EN 50291 and has the British Standards Kitemark. In the past I’ve been on the BBC Fake Britain programme as concerns had been raised about cheap imported alarms being sold that didn’t comply with these standards. Only last week, Avril was worried about an alarm that was being sold for £5.59 on Ebay – after asking the seller various questions about the manufacturer, the end date on the alarm and asking for reassurances about whether it complied with British Standards but not getting a suitable response to any of these queries, she contacted an ex colleague of hers who works for Ebay and within a few days was told that the product had now been removed. So please don’t go for the cheapest option because it is your life and your family’s that is at risk. Please alert us if you see similar questionable items being sold online.

In 2017 for Katie’s 38th birthday, we asked you on our Facebook page to take a selfie with your carbon monoxide alarm. It was a great success and if you are coming to the hotel later you will see a photo with all the selfies. Last year on her birthday we asked people to make a Carbon Monoxide pledge – and this was shared many times. On our Facebook and Twitter pages we link to the latest articles on carbon monoxide incidents and awareness, and it would be wonderful if you could like and share these too – it’s important to spread the word and it just takes a couple of clicks to do this for us.

In this Katie’s 40th birthday year we are hoping to be in a position to give 40 carbon monoxide alarms to 40 fire stations for them to install for their most vulnerable clients. If you’d like to help us with this – and would like to donate £5-10 towards an alarm – please go to the donate button on our website and put CO Alarm in the message box. We email out only three or four newsletters a year and if you don’t already subscribe to this, it would be wonderful if you could do so through our website, it enables us to keep you updated with what we’ve been doing with your money – such as circulating the alarms and lets you know of any initiatives and latest legislation encompassing carbon monoxide safety.

So a final reminder – Belt and Braces – all carbon burning appliances regularly serviced – chimneys swept – use registered engineers and install one or more carbon monoxide alarms that you test regularly. If you have children, let them know what to do in an emergency if your smoke or carbon monoxide alarms sound.

On a personal level – thank you for all those cards and messages we receive on anniversaries relating to Katie – we’re pleased that in her comparatively short life she had an impact on so many people. For eight years a group of her university friends rented a cottage together in the Cotswolds around the time of her birthday. I’m sure a lot of chatting and laughter took place but they also took the time to visit Katie and to allow us – Avril, Adam, Lydia, Michele, Richard and I to join them for dinner on the Saturday. It has been lovely to catch up with them and hear about their time spent with Katie at university.

One final thing. Those of you who knew and loved Katie – please think about sending us a memory or two that you shared with her. Avril is putting together a memory book so that Adam, Lydia, Alessandro and Danilo will have happy memories of Katie to read in the future.

Keep Safe.

If there is anyone who would like to see an online version of the Order of Service, please let me know.

Following the service, a reception was held at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park Hotel, where we showed a short film of Katie from childhood to her wedding day. It was difficult to watch but captured Katie and her smile perfectly. We are extremely grateful to Rob Lyon for compiling this lasting memorial to our much loved daughter, after tirelessly going through our 20+ family DVDs.

Our gratitude also to Mark Day of The Bridge Photography who took the wonderful photographs at the service and reception, providing us with such an incredible record of the day. Mark helped us out free of charge when our original photographer had to drop out at the last minute.

We’re also grateful to the De Vere Hotel for their help in organising the reception and donating a gift to KHMT, which will be raffled off in due course.

We would also like to thank Richard Osley, an ex colleague of Katie’s, for his article on the commemoration in the Camden Journal.

Also: Wiltsglosstandard.co.uk