A De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) academic, who has campaigned tirelessly to make smart motorways safer after her eight-year-old son tragically died in a traffic collision, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Meera Naran, a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy, made national news headlines over the last 18 months for almost constant lobbying of the Department for Transport and the Highways England.
As a result, the Government ordered no more smart motorways were to open until they were installed with radar technology that detects when cars have broken down, shuts lanes when necessary, and gets help to drivers quickly.
In recognition of her independent campaigning, Meera was today awarded the MBE for Services to Road Safety. Meera will attend Buckingham Palace at a later date to receive her honour.
Meera with her son Dev
Meera said: "I am truly humbled to be recognised in this way. It goes without saying that I receive this award in the name of my son, Dev, and I will continue to campaign for safer roads and safer driving.
"When I opened the envelope a month ago, I have to be honest, I cried. It was a very, very emotional moment.
"It is very precious, very personal and the only person I wanted to show the letter to and tell them about the award before today was Dev and say 'look what we have done'."
Mum whose son tragically died on smart motorway welcomes pledge to make them safer
Following Dev's inquest - a time when she says she had hit rock bottom - Meera decided to channel all of her energy into campaigning to save lives. "At that moment, all I could think was 'what are the lessons to be learned here? And how do we make what we have better?", she said in April this year.
"My campaign started three days before my daughter was born. Campaigning with a new born baby, and managing my son Neel and his complex health issues, was a challenge. But it's a challenge that, to this day, I continue to accept.
"Until we achieve zero deaths, I will not be able to say that I have succeeded."
What Meera has achieved in just 18 months of campaigning is remarkable, and helps explain the recognition from The Queen.
As well as the Government pledge to introduce extra safety measures on all new smart motorways, the Highway Code has been updated and the Government has also committed to a £500 million 18-point action plan, which Meera also successfully campaigned for. In addition, the first phase of a £5m education campaign was rolled out earlier this year.
Meera said: "Grief is all-consuming…and it is devastating. If allowed, it can consume you. But I always believed in turning that into something positive by helping to save the lives of others. That's what keeps me going.
“My campaigning voice has been motivated by all the unspent love I have for Dev. If he was here, he would be getting all that love. It would be his. But instead, I am using it for road safety.”
Meera was sworn to secrecy about her MBE until today and she is looking forward to celebrating her news with her family.
Dev (right) with his brother Neel
"The first person I am telling is Neel. He may not understand but I want him to hear everything about it. And then, of course, there is my husband. He has been such a huge support and has already been there for me throughout, encouraging me and, sometimes, just sitting there and listening. And there has been a lot of listening over the past few years", she laughs.
"I feel as though this MBE is something positive that we can celebrate with everyone."
Posted on Saturday 12th June 2021