On 30 June 2018, Paula’s son, Declan Grove, who Paula called ‘Decky’, was in a crash at 02:33am, after heading back from a party. There were five other people in the car, including his four best friends, all between the ages of 16 and 21. The driver, one of Decky’s friends, lost control while driving along Broadway in Horsforth, and collided head-on with a taxi. The crash killed Decky and three male friends, while two girls who were also in the car at the time survived the crash. The taxi driver involved also survived the crash.

The driver of the car that Declan was in died at the scene of the crash and no criminal charges were brought.

After being informed about the crash and the death of her son and his four best friends, Paula recounts the state of shock she felt. She cannot remember the first couple of weeks after the crash, as she battled with grief, trauma and suicidal thoughts.

GROVE Declan Paula Knight
Decky and three of his best friends were killed when their car lost control driving home from a party

Nothing prepares you for losing a child so suddenly. Decky was the light of my life, and he was snatched away from me. I am raising awareness of Decky’s story in his memory.

Even though the crash happened four years ago, it does not feel like that length of time has passed at all. Not a day goes by where Decky is not in Paula’s thoughts, wondering what he would be doing today if he was still here.

The impact of the crash also severely impacted the wider community, with the loss of four best friends at the same time completely shifting the dynamics of the community. The crash brought Paula together with the mothers of the three other victims and they have since been campaigning for safer roads across Leeds.

Their message is that a simple mistake on roads can have the biggest impact, and they want to share this message, particularly with young drivers who are coming up to, or have recently passed, their driving tests.

By campaigning to raise awareness of the importance of safe roads, particularly among young drivers, Paula feels she is doing right by her son Decky. While she can never bring him back, she wants to use his memory to make sure that this does not happen to anybody else. The grieving process can make you want to curl up in a ball and lock yourself away from the world, Paula says. By sharing Decky’s story and memory, Paula feels she is building resilience and has found a way to a new reality. Small steps forward she says, are better than none.