Towards Zero Round’s extra meaning
When Jack Worrell was 14, his whole life changed when his mum died after an oncoming car hit hers in a head-on crash. Now, the Cheltenham Football Netball Club captain and his brothers are part of the TAC’s Towards Zero round to promote road safety.
They had their Friday night planned.
They were going to the football, to watch Essendon play North Melbourne.
Lyn Worrell would pick up some takeaway food on the way home from work, as she usually did on Fridays, and then they would head to Docklands, her husband, Steve, and sons Jack, Max and Tom.
It was June 30, 2006.
Cheltenham Football Netball Club captain Jack Worrell will never forget that night. Every bit of it comes to him.
He says you could ask him what he did last week and he might struggle to remember.
But that Friday night won’t ever leave him — the worry of his mum being late home, of his increasingly anxious dad setting off in search of her, of him returning later, sobbing as he came through the back gate.
Jack, then 14, was in the kitchen when he saw his distraught father come home to tell the boys there had been a car accident and their mother had been killed at the age of 46.
“Devastating,’’ he said. “We were all waiting for her and she never came home.
“I’m not sure how it happened with dad, but he must have got a call or had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. He took off. One of my mate’s stepdads came around to look after us. Then dad came through the gate in tears. Straight away I knew something was wrong. Yeah, just feared the worst. He told us what had happened. Shattering obviously. Happens like that. One minute things are all good and you’re going to the footy, and an hour or so later your mum has died.’’
Lyn Worrell was killed on the Nepean Highway in Cheltenham, a short distance from the family home, when her car was struck by an oncoming vehicle near the Royal Oak Hotel.
“She was waiting to turn on to the other side of the highway and a car came across the median strip,’’ Jack said.
“To be honest, I’ve never really asked for too many of those details. We were young, so maybe dad wanted to protect us a bit. It was shattering for him but he always kept a strong face as he raised us. He’s done an unbelievable job.’’
At the time of his mother’s death Jack was playing junior football at Cheltenham Panthers.
He remembers the staunch support of the club and the Cheltenham community to his family.
“It made a devastating time at least a bit bearable,’’ he said.
Every year the Panthers give out the Lyn Worrell Memorial Trophy to a valued volunteer. Every year Steve Worrell and his sons proudly present it.
Thirteen years after his mother’s death, Jack Worrell, 27, a carpenter, is at the heart of a Transport Accident Commission initiative, Towards Zero Round, to promote road safety.
More than 1000 captains of local football teams will wear the No. 0 on the jumpers this weekend.
“Grassroots football and netball clubs are the lifeblood of their communities and I’m sure you would be hard pressed to find someone involved who hasn’t been affected by road trauma,’’ the TAC’s acting chief executive Bruce Crossett said.
“We believe that zero is the only acceptable number of deaths on our roads but we need everyone to play their part.
“This round is putting road safety at the fore and we’re asking everyone to prioritise safety to make sure every journey is a safe one.’’
After the TAC began promoting the day to clubs, Cheltenham official Chris Graham asked Jack, Max (who plays for Highett) and Tom (also a Cheltenham player) if they wanted to be involved. They said yes.
“We thought why not, we could play a part in it,’’ Jack said.
“We’re not the only family that’s been affected by this and it’s happening way too much. If it can make a difference in any way, then we’re happy to get behind it. It’s a great campaign. Too many people are dying on the roads. The increased toll this year has been ridiculous. And just like that so many people are affected.’’
Cheltenham is also holding its annual ladies’ lunch this Saturday and will honour Lyn Worrell, whom Jack remembers as an “unreal mum’’.
“Didn’t spoil us but was always there for us. Any sport we would play, she’d been there watching. She’d drop us off, pick us up, do it all.’’
For Cheltenham, there is another element to Towards Zero Round.
Early in the year past player and long-time supporter Mark “Dutchy’’ Ryan was sideswiped by a car that allegedly ran a red light in Springvale.
As he slowly recovers from a significant brain injury, the club will raise money for him on Saturday.
** This story was first published on Leader Local Footy by Paul Amy.