“This is life now… we don’t celebrate Christmas at all”

The family of a teenage passenger killed in a horrific car crash have launched an emotional video appeal in support of this year’s Winter Drink Drive Campaign.

Brave Peter and Doreen Funnell fight back tears as they recall on camera the moment they heard their beloved son and grandson Will was dead.

In the hard-hitting footage, they speak of the utter devastation Will’s death has had on family, friends and all those who knew him.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Doreen, 72, goes on to describe the “pebble in the pond” impact of losing her grandson.

Will Funnell died in August 2013 as the 19-year-old was being driven home from a night out in Maidstone.

Doreen, of Biddenden, Kent, said: “My world just fell apart, Devastated. No grandmother wants to hear their grandson has been killed.

“I kept thinking, ‘but he was so lively, so vital, he can’t be dead’.

“This is life now. We look forward to nothing, we don’t have holidays, we don’t celebrate Christmas at all.”

Landscaper Peter, 52, and his mother hope their testimonies will make others in Kent think twice about drinking and driving or agreeing to take a lift with someone who they suspect may have been drinking this festive season.

The 3-minute video has been released to mark the launch of Kent County Council’s Winter Drink Drive Campaign.

It comes as the latest figures released show there has been a 20 per cent drop in the number of those killed or seriously injured on Kent’s roads in the past 10 years.

There were 515 deaths or serious injuries since 2007 on the county’s roads, compared to 645 between 1997 and 2006.

While this represents a drop of 20 per cent, the number of those killed in the past 10 years has actually increased from 52 between 1997 and 2006, to 65 between 2007 and 2016.

Vicky Harvey from Kent Council’s Road Safety Team said; “Over the last ten years, there have been 65 people killed on Kent’s roads as a result of drink driving.

“All of these deaths could have been prevented. Drivers cannot be sure of the effect drink is having on their reaction times and ability to drive, until it is too late.

“Will has gone. I will never be able to see him again, touch him, talk to him, do anything with him again – that’s it, he’s gone, just like that.”

“Even the smallest amount of alcohol will affect their ability to drive safely. The choice you make as to whether you drink and drive is a conscious decision; so make the right choice.

“Drivers must understand that they do not have to be drunk to be dangerous. Just one drink can increase the chances of them having a crash, sometimes with tragic consequences for the victims and their families.

“My message is simple; if you are driving just consider, is one drink worth it?”

Sergeant Ben Brennan from the Kent Police’s Roads Policing Unit said: “We want people to have fun and enjoy the festive season but to do so safely. That means not driving at all if you have been drinking any amount of alcohol, no matter how small, or if you are impaired by prescription or illegal drugs.”

“Every year innocent motorists and pedestrians are put at risk from people who think it is acceptable to drive whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs; this campaign is about telling people it is not acceptable.

“We are passionate about changing bad driving behaviour on our roads to protect all those that use them.

“We want all the people of Kent and visitors to the County to have a safe and happy Christmas which is why we don’t make allowances for anyone driving whilst under the influence and why we have these campaigns.”

Will Funnell died in August 2013 as the 19-year-old was being driven home from a night out in Maidstone. The driver, who was also killed, was found to be well over the legal drink drive limit.

In the video, Will’s father Peter breaks down in tears as he speaks of the day a police officer told him that his only son was dead.

Peter, of Biddenden, Kent, said: “My wife Kate had got to the road block. The police had brought her up in her car. He said that William had died at 4am this morning…in a road traffic accident. Man I just dropped down.

“Will has gone. I will never be able to see him again, touch him, talk to him, do anything with him again – that’s it, he’s gone, just like that.

“We might only be four years down the line, but I can tell you now I miss him more every day, every week.
“Imagine if you kill someone else, your family has then got that to deal with. Two of his closest friends can’t even speak about it.”

“So in actual fact that number 65 doesn’t represent the amount of lives it’s ruined. Sixty-five people paid the ultimate price.”

Doreen added: “It’s like a pebble in a pond, it ripples out, it changes all our lives. If you’re out and you think your driver’s been drinking, don’t get in the car. Get a taxi.

“Your parents will be better off answering the door and paying a taxi than later on getting a knock at the door and the police coming round later in the day to say that you’ve been killed in a car crash.

“You all have a choice. Unfortunately, Will, he made the wrong choice.”

Full Transcript:

Pete: “I could say Will was my son but the rivers ran deeper than that. He wasn’t just my son, as much as I was his hero he was my hero.

Doreen: “I loved to be seen with Will, he was such a pleasure to be with, lots of things we used to do together.”

Pete: “My wife Kate had got to the road block. The police had brought her up in her car. He said that William had been died at 4am this morning…in a road traffic accident. Man I just dropped down.

“Will has gone. I will never be able to see him again, touch him, talk to him, do anything with him again – that’s it, he’s gone, just like that.

“We might only be four years down the line, but I can tell you now I miss him more every day, every week.”

Doreen: “My world just fell apart, Devastated. No grandmother wants to hear their grandson has been killed.

“I kept thinking, ‘but he was so lively, so vital, he can’t be dead.

“This is life now. We look forward to nothing, we don’t have holidays, we don’t celebrate Christmas at all.”

Pete: “I don’t want lights on, I don’t want a tree on, I don’t want to know about Christmas.”

Doreen: “I don’t want another family to go through what we’re going through.
“Drink driving. These youngsters think they’re invincible, they think they can do this the can do that.

Pete: “It’s so dangerous, the speed, the drinking. Youngsters inexperienced. It doesn’t matter how good a driver you think you are, you can’t function with drink inside you.

Doreen: “It’s not only their lives. They are going to lose their lives. If they hit another person they’re going to take their lives, or their passenger’s life.”

Pete: “Imagine if you kill someone else, your family has then got that to deal with. Two of his closest friends can’t even speak about it.”

Doreen: “You see everyone suffering. You’ve got your own grief but you’re grieving for them as well.”

Pete: “So in actual fact that number 65 doesn’t represent the amount of lives it’s ruined. Sixty five people paid the ultimate price.”

Doreen: “It’s like a pebble in a pond, it ripples out, it changes all our lives. If you’re out and you think your driver’s been drinking, don’t get in the car. Get a taxi.

“Your parents will be better off answering the door and paying a taxi than later on getting a knock at the door and the police coming round later in the day to say that you’ve been killed in a car crash.

“You all have a choice. Unfortunately, Will, he made the wrong choice.”

“This is life now… we don’t celebrate Christmas at all” was last modified: December 1st, 2017 by Thom Morris