A talented teenage rugby player killed in a car crash seven years ago is the inspiration behind a hard-hitting national road safety campaign being stepped up this week.
Richard Wilkinson, a player for Hawick Wanderers, died after a car being driven by one of his friends, Sean Goodfellow, failed to take a sharp bend on the A698 Kelso-to-Jedburgh road near Eckford on April 4, 2009.
Goodfellow was taking part in a 90mph race with another fellow player, Murray McAllan, at the time.
The 17-year-old, of Stobs, near Hawick, was a front-seat passenger, and sitting in the back was another team-mate, Stuart Hogg, now a Scottish international.
Hogg, a former pupil of Hawick High School and the town’s Trinity Primary School, now plays for Glasgow Warriors as a full-back, and he believes his late friend could have gone on to enjoy a successful sporting career too.
The Melrose-born 24-year-old pays tribute to Richard in a new road safety film aimed at persuading young male drivers to cut their speeds.
In the Government-backed film, put online this week, he also reveals that his wife Gillian is expecting a second child on April 4, the seventh anniversary of Richard’s death. The pair are already parents to a 10-month-old boy, Archie.
Hogg, capped 45 times for Scotland, said: “Losing him had a massive impact on my life. He’s missed out on so many things.
“I’m now a dad and play for Scotland, and I just can’t help wishing he was here to be part of that.
“He was a lively character and a talented rugby player.
“His memory will live on, and it will be lovely for my son Archie to have a little brother or sister.
“The loss of Richard is with me every day, and I don’t want to see anyone go through the heartache we have.
“I could have been killed and know I’m very lucky to still be here.
“Richard was taken away too soon.
“Too many people lose their lives to dangerous driving.
“We have seen a reduction in the number of deaths, and we are getting the message across, which is exactly what we hope to achieve.”
The new online interview follows the screening of an advert on TV, cinema screens and digital radio since earlier this month about a fictional character losing control of his car on a country road.
It targets male drivers aged 22 to 40, and its message is ‘don’t miss what’s round the corner. Watch your speed on country roads’.
Hogg’s participation in the road safety campaign is being supported by Richard’s parents, pig farmers Sandra and Tommy Wilkinson, as they hope their son’s death will be a warning to others.
Hogg now pays tribute to his pal on the pitch by making a W sign every time he scores.
“Richard lived for rugby and was one of the most talented youth players I’ve ever seen,” he said.
“We were friends since we were kids and bonded over our love of the sport.
“I’m sure he would have gone on to big things.
“Every time I go on the pitch, I play for the two of us. He’s always with me, on and off the field.”
Goodfellow and McAllan were jailed for four and a half years in 2010 after they admitted causing Richard’s death by dangerous driving.
The pair, both 19 at the time of the court hearing, were also banned from driving for 12 years.
Hogg’s interview can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXVapUI5myA&feature=youtu.be or via http://bit.ly/2d0ScLN