Co-founder of CO-Gas Safety and President and Director of Consumer Safety International, Molly Maher, very sadly died on Thursday 23rd April 2020.
Molly courageously campaigned after the death of her son, Gary from unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) from a gas water heater in Tenerife in 1985. Her daughter, Sheree was poisoned in the same incident and was paralysed for a year, becoming a wheelchair user. Sheree admirably retained her sharp brain and zest for life.
Molly spent many years raising awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Her great cry was ‘keep a window open’. She tried to persuade those in the tourist industry, hoteliers, the fuel industry and governments in the UK and Spain to raise awareness, service properly, ensure ventilation and install CO alarms. Many people both abroad and in the UK, owe their health and their lives to Molly’s work, yet have no idea that they do.
Molly was told by the authorities in Tenerife that there were CO problems in the UK. At first she didn’t believe them and maintained that in the UK there was the Health & Safety Executive. However, she was shocked to find that indeed there were huge problems in the UK and all over the world. Indeed, even in the UK, there is still a lack of awareness of the dangers of CO from all fuels, a lack of a test of the air or appliances for CO by the gas emergency service and a lack of specific support for victims/survivors of CO, who can rarely prove poisoning.
Along with the now late David Jenkins of RoSPA and Nigel Griffiths, then an MP, Molly founded CO-Gas Safety, which was launched at the House of Commons on the 25th January 1995. This was an independent, registered charity as was CSI. CO-Gas Safety, headed by Stephanie Trotter, looked exclusively at CO and other gas dangers. CO-Gas Safety worked to reduce deaths and injuries from unintentional carbon monoxide and other gas dangers and to help victims and their families.
CSI covers all holiday dangers. Molly and Stephanie had met while Stephanie was campaigning for children’s activity holiday centres to be licensed after an injury, a clot on the brain, was suffered by Stephanie’s son Alex, aged 12 in 1992 while at a sailing centre. Molly helped Stephanie with this campaign because CSI was all about safer holidays. This campaign to license children’s activity holidays in the UK was thankfully successful and there is now the Activity Centres (Young Persons’ Safety) Act 1995. Sadly scouts etc. and university students are still not covered, despite Stephanie’s pleas that they should be.
Stephanie learned a great deal about campaigning from Molly, how difficult it is and how much of a roller coast experience it is. Molly never stopped campaigning and her courage and determination will be greatly missed.
The struggle to do what most people assume is done but isn’t, to put in place what most people say is just common sense, continues. But true campaigners have lost an inspiration; CO-Gas Safety has lost a founder with guts.
Frank Brehany, who ran Holiday Travel Watch and has known Molly as long as Stephanie has put out a press release which he has kindly shared with CO-Gas Safety