Chichester grandmother killed in A27 crash dedicated her life to helping others - now her family want to keep her memory alive

The family of a Chichester grandmother, who was killed by a drunk-driver, are raising money for the charity she religiously supported.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 12:01 pm

Gillian Casey, 75, died alongside Anne Wales, 80, when the purple Renault Zoe they were passengers in was involved in a collision with a white Ford Focus on February 27 last year.

Ryan Dowling, 28, of Woolmer Street, Emsworth, was jailed following the collision, which also seriously injured a third person.

Gillian, who had four children and seven grandchildren, 'dedicated her life to her family' and to the 'countless children she taught as a primary school teacher'. In her retirement, she was also a keen supporter of local charities and did a lot of work in the community.

Gillian, who had four children and seven grandchildren, 'dedicated her life to her family' and to the 'countless children she taught as a primary school teacher'

This included her work with refugee charity, Sanctuary in Chichester, which supports newly arrived refugees and asylum seeking families to avoid destitution. It also supports social activities and integration, so that families are able to contribute to their communities.

"Mum was a very giving person," her daughter Ellie said.

“She befriended refugee families and helped them settle into the country. She helped with practical things but was a friend to them too.

“She was always thinking about others before herself.

Three of Gillian's children, Ben, Ellie and Jon, are taking part in the Great South Run on October 17.

"She was basically the centre of our family. She was also central to so many people’s lives in the local community.

"Everybody thought such a lot of her."

Three of Gillian's children, Ben, Ellie and Jon, are taking part in the Great South Run on October 17. They will be joined by friends Nadine and Emma Hunter and Carina Jefferis.

Ellie said training has started for the ten-mile run, adding: "We are looking forward to doing it.

"It's going to be very poignant. We will be thinking about mum."

The total amount of money raised so far, including gift aid, is more than £10,000.

"It’s a testament to mum's character that people have been so generous and kind on the fundraising page," Ellie said.

"We are delighted. It's great that everybody has been so supportive. We want to thank them for their kindness.

"It really helps us to channel our energies into something positive.

"We want to ensure that something positive comes out of such a horrible tragedy."

The money will be split equally between Sanctuary and road safety charity, Brake.

The family chose Brake because of its 'crucial work' campaigning for safer roads and supporting people bereaved and injured by road crashes.

The organisation also campaigns to increase the sentencing powers available to judges for such offences.

Jason Wakeford, head of campaigns at Brake, said: "Our thoughts remain with Gillian Casey's family and we applaud their fantastic fundraising efforts for the charity, and wish them all the best for the Great South Run.

“Four people are killed and 25 are seriously injured every week, on average, in drink-drive related crashes.

"England and Wales have the highest drink-drive limits in Europe - the Government must urgently introduce a zero-tolerance drink-drive limit to reduce road deaths and serious injuries.”

After his conviction, Sussex Police said Dowling had consumed ‘at least five pints of Stella at the pub’. It was revealed that there was 97mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system, when the legal limit is 80mg.

He was sentenced to a total of eight-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, of which he must serve half, and disqualified from driving for six-and-a-half years.

"We think there should be a much longer sentence, for something so deliberate," Ellie said.

"He chose to drink and get in his car."

However, Ellie acknowledged that the judge's 'hands were tied', adding: "They could only work within the law."

If you would like to make a donation to the fundraiser, please click here.

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