Northumberland cyclist's death inspires play highlighting city bike riding dangers

The death of Northumberland cyclist Eilidh Cairns has inspired a play on road safety which has been showcased in London

Eilidh Cairns who was killed whilst cycling to work
Eilidh Cairns who was killed whilst cycling to work

The death of a Northumberland cyclist has inspired a play which aims to highlight the dangers of city bike riding.

Eilidh Cairns, 30, from Ellingham, near Alnwick, and a former Duchess’s Community High School student, died after being knocked off her bike by a lorry in London, where she lived and worked at a television production company, in February 2009.

A ghost bike was placed at the spot she was killed, and was the first permanent such memorial in London.

Tamara von Werthern, 36, a mother-of-two from the city, passes the crash site on her daily ride to work and was inspired by it to write The White Bike, a play which highlights the dangers of cycling in the capital.

Tamara saw many similarities between Eilidh’s life and her own - the women were the same age - and used her as the basis for her main character, Isabel, who is killed riding to work.

Ms von Werthern, who works for a theatre publisher, spoke with Eilidh’s sister Kate Cairns, who lives at Newton-by-the-Sea near Alnwick, and researched evidence provided to her inquest.

She is also working with a friend and colleague of Eilidh.

The play has been showcased at a theatre in London and a 15-minute showcase is planned next month at a university in the capital.

Ms von Werthern is working with a director to turn it into a full production and hopes it will be accepted by an independent theatre in London.

Profits will be donated to RoadPeace, the charity for road crash victims which Eilidh’s family support.

Ms von Werthern said: “The central piece of the play is that she finds herself seemingly alive and her bike, which is now the ghost bike, is there by the side of the crash.

“I saw the (police appeal) posters and the ghost bike. Because she was my age, it sparked the thought: ‘What if this happened to me?’”

“It highlights that there is a need for things to change so that a senseless death like this one won’t happen in the future.

“There was something about Eilidh that made me feel very connected, and made me realise that this is something that can happen to anyone.”

Kate, an independent sustainability adviser, said: “I was touched, surprised and moved when Tamara contacted me to say she had been inspired by Eilidh to write a play.

“I am delighted and privileged and proud that my sister continues in death what she did so powerfully in life: To leave a long lasting and unforgettable impression on people who come under her sphere of influence.

“Excitedly about to enter her long sought after role as a documentary maker, where she wanted to use her creative and scientific mind in a medium that would have most influence, I know she would have been secretly proud to have a part in the creation of such a play.

“It is lovely, and apt, that Tamara is working on this play with Libi, a good friend and colleague of Eilidh.

“Libi has told me how important Eilidh was in her life and Tamara told me how she feels connected to Eilidh, even though she never met her.

“I give gratitude, respect and thanks for their hard work, time and effort and hope that it is rewarded and this play touches peoples hearts, just the way Eilidh has always done.”

Read more stories on Eilidh Cairns and her family's campaign for cycle safety

Family of Eilidh Cairns calls for quick action on HGV changes

Families slam government for reluctance to back safety ruling

Northumberland families join forces to raise cash for road safety causes

Family of Eilidh Cairns mark fifth anniversary of cyclist's death

Northumberland campaigner joins Olympic cyclist in Brussels ahead of safety vote


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