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Family of tandem death continue campaign

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 28, 2014

  • Kelly Woodruff, above, sister of Ross Simons. Top, Ross with wife Clare – both were killed while cycling in Bristol

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The family of a married couple who were killed while tandem cycling have revealed 13,000 people have signed their petition calling for stiffer sentences for dangerous drivers.

Ross and Clare Simons were cycling through Bristol when they were struck by Nicholas Lovell – a banned driver who had scores of previous convictions.

On that day he was fleeing police who had spotted him driving illegally, and was speeding up Lower Hanham Road when he crashed into the couple.

Speaking on the first anniversary of the incident, the families said they feel they have only "just survived" the year of grief. Ross' sister Kelly Woodruff, 31, who spoke on behalf of her parents Edwin and Dawn, as well as Clare's parents Mary and Colin Champion, said: "We all feel like we can't believe a year has passed. It's been a bit of a blur for all of us.

"All we can say is that we have all survived this year – but just survived.

"We get up each day and breathe, but deep down we are all still deeply grieving. We miss them so much that sometimes it's hard to breathe.

"We miss their smiles, we miss the warmth of their hugs, and the sounds of their voices. Life has to go on but it will never be the same for any of us."

One big comfort for the family is that a petition they started after Lovell, 38, of West Street, Oldland Common, was sentenced, has been signed by more than 13,000 people.

He was given ten years and six months for the couple's deaths – a sentence the family feels should have been longer taking into account his previous convictions.

Last night ministers faced calls to introduce harsher penalties for dangerous drivers after Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore, who has been supporting the family, secured a backbench business debate on the floor of the House of Commons.

"Everyone's support has been fantastic from day one, when we first found out, until today," said Kelly, who gave birth to second son Josh in July.

"To get a debate in Parliament was our main goal and we thought it would take about three or four years to achieve.

"Over this year we've realised we are not alone. So many people have contacted us who have gone through the same thing all over the country.

"The sentences some people have received for dangerous driving are awful – 12 months for killing someone.

"What the perpetrators don't realise is the devastation they cause – people's lives, like ours, are scarred forever.

"We will never live the way we should be living, all because of that man, my future has been stolen.

"Ross and I had some quite major plans and dreams, and now that's all gone.

"Ross and Clare are meant to be here now meeting their gorgeous little nephew.

"Stronger sentences are required to make people realise the severity of their actions," she added.

The family still want people to sign the petition, as next month they plan to travel to Downing Street to present it themselves.

Over the last year the families have also found solace in raising money for Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine at Southmead Hospital.

Ross, 34, and Clare, 30, who lived in Hillfields, Bristol, had started the process to have a baby through IVF treatment just before they died.

So far, family and the couple's many friends have raised more than £7,000 for the charity and want to keep going until they raise £12,000 – the amount needed to buy an incubator for the centre.

Last September two sisters who were friends with the couple held a fundraising night at Hanham Community Centre, which raised nearly £6,000 – half of which went to the IVF charity and half for a plot of land at Westerleigh Crematorium where a memorial bench for the couple is to be placed.

In December the family held a raffle night at the Cherry Tree pub in Oldland Common and Kelly's seven-year-old son Callum held a cake sale at his primary school that raised £500.

Kelly said: "We are thrilled with what we've raised."

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