Tragic family launch child safety video

EVERY parent's worst nightmare became reality for Bob and Sally Dowler when their beloved daughter Millie failed to arrive home from school.She was last seen walking home from Walton-on-Thames railway station on March 21, 2002.

EVERY parent's worst nightmare became reality for Bob and Sally Dowler when their beloved daughter Millie failed to arrive home from school.

She was last seen walking home from Walton-on-Thames railway station on March 21, 2002. After an agonising six-month wait Bob and Sally received the news they were dreading; 13-year-old Millie's remains had been discovered at a woodland site in Hampshire.

Despite the unimaginable grief the couple still suffer, which is compounded by the fact nobody has been brought to justice for Millie's murder, they remain determined to help prevent others from suffering the heartbreak they still endure every day.

The couple has now joined forces with the Department for Education and Skills and Sudbury based market services provider Prolog to launch a £250,000 safety video, which aims to show teenagers the risks they face and how to plan their own safety strategy.

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The Sudbury firm, which is based on the Chilton Industrial Estate, has been helping the Dowler's cause by packing then distributing the videos to every single secondary school in the UK.

Yesterday, Bob and Sally Dowler, and Millie's sister Gemma, 17, paid a visit to the factory to show their appreciation for the help they have received.

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Whilst at the factory Mrs Dowler said: “After Millie's body was found so many people wanted to make donations and we realised this was going to be quite significant.

“We thought there was nothing innovative or recent out there to help advise teenagers. We had great support from education secretary Charles Clarke and David Blunkett and carried out research to see what was needed.

“We employed an Essex production company to produce a soap opera style video, with characters and people from all different backgrounds and situations that teenagers could relate to.”

Mr Dowler said: “The whole object of this is to try and get children to try and think for themselves and work out their own safety strategies.

“We want them to think about how they would deal with issues in certain situations. The video is very thought provoking and sometimes hard-hitting. We don't want to frighten anyone, but if we can help prevent anyone going through a terrible tragedy like this it is worth it.

“Prolog has been marvellous helping us get the video out to all the schools in the country and getting the message across to a wider audience and we are so grateful to them.”

The video, titled Watch Over Me, takes the form of a five-part soap opera and deals with themes such as domestic violence, abduction, theft, intruders and travelling alone.

Top celebrities such as Davina McCall, Chris Tarrant, Ant and Dec, Cat Deeley, Shane Ritchie and David Seaman endorse the drama with interviews when they recall their own personal difficulties.

The stories were devised after research among school pupils and actress Lynda Bellingham heads a cast of actors from the National Youth Theatre.

The video comes in two packages, one for the viewing of school pupils and another with a video, briefing pack and covering letter for teachers.

Millie's sister Gemma, who has already seen the tapes, said: “I have watched tapes before with people like education ministers and school kids find these really hard to relate to. The up to date celebrities in this one helps to bring home the message in a credible way.”

Mr Dowler also spoke on a more personal note and told how the family help each other to stay strong.

He said: “We are a close family and that drives us forward. Obviously we have a public and a private face, but it is important that we keep the balance right. It is important that we keep composed because this is too important to let slip through. Millie would be proud of what we are doing, but it does concern us that the person responsible is still out there.”

A Prolog spokesman: “This is a great cause which will benefit the whole community. We spent a week packaging and distributing the videos to every school in the country. A lot of workers here are parents so this is a subject that is close to home.”

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