Mum’s heartbreak as son went to school but never came home

Bobby Colleran and his family should be celebrating his 16th birthday today, but tragically, it’s a celebration they will never have.

Little Bobby was just six when he was hit by a van on Leyfield Road in West Derby[1] on the way home from school. He later died at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital – it was his mum’s birthday.

By her own admission, Bobby’s mum, Joanne will never get over the death of her son. In fact, she still talks to Bobby and occasionally catches herself laying a place for him at the dinner table.

Joanne said: “I will always have four boys. We do celebrate Bobby’s birthday, he is part of Christmas, our birthdays, our everyday life – and he always will be. He’s my son and he’s a brother.

“This is our life now and we try our best every day to get through it, but it doesn’t get easier. I just learned to breathe in and push down so I can carry on.”

However, the story of Bobby Colleran is not just one of tragedy and pain, it is also one of love, hope and resilience in the face of unimaginable grief.

After Bobby’s death, Joanne founded the Bobby Colleran Trust and has worked tirelessly to bring essential road safety awareness campaigns to the attention of Merseyside.

As a result, campaigns like ‘Slow Down For Bobby’ have helped save the lives of countless children. Joanne said: “I wanted to do something for Bobby to help him help other people and families and prevent more heartbreak.”

Bobby Colleran
Bobby Colleran

Joanne adds: “The love and warmth we receive makes me think ‘wow’. It’s so perfect because that’s exactly what Bobby was. So many people across the city have taken Bobby into their hearts.”

Bobby’s story and the work of Joanne and her family continues to move and inspire people. Last month, the ECHO published a story to highlight the important work of the Bobby Colleran Trust. The article was seen by Kath Garrett who was moved to tears after reading about Joanne’s journey.

Kath’s son, John Garrett was killed in a car crash on new year’s eve in 2002 – he was just 22-years-old. John was travelling as a passenger in his friend’s Audi A3 when the car left the M62 at the Huyton[4] junction and lost control on Bowring Park Road. Tragically, John died at the scene.

Kath said: “John was a lovely baby. It took me eleven years to get pregnant with him and he was the only one I ever had. I cherished him.

“Losing him was a dreadful shock. There’s not a day goes by when I don’t miss him, when I don’t think about him.”

“Things like John’s birthday, Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve – they are difficult days and it’s hard to come to terms with because the loss is so sudden.

“All loss is tragic – to lose a mum or an uncle or a friend, but there’s something about losing a child. It seems so unfair.”

Kath Garrett with Bobby Colleran's mum Joanne Colleran, holding a picture of Kath's son John
Kath Garrett with Bobby Colleran’s mum Joanne Colleran, holding a picture of Kath’s son John

When Kath read about Bobby and the campaigns Joanne has undertaken, she felt compelled to offer her help – in whatever way possible. She said: “I thought there must be some way to help Bobby’s Trust and I wanted to give them one of my paintings.”

Kath is an artist and regularly attends painting classes at The Florrie. She chose one of her paintings titled ‘Highway to the Stars’ and decided she would donate it to Bobby’s Base.

Both Joanne and Kath agreed to meet and take the time to share their stories – including recollections about their beloved sons and also how they have coped with their tragic losses.

When Kath walked through the door at Bobby’s base, Joanne described feeling instantly drawn to her. She said: “It’s so lovely to meet Kath. Even though we’ve never met, as soon as you walked in the door I could just feel a shared connection.

“Sadly, she knows, we both know. What happened to us shouldn’t happen. But today I’m just so happy she came to meet us and visit Bobby’s Base.”

Kath was equally delighted to visit Bobby’s Base and meet Joanne. She said: “When I hear Joanne talk about Bobby and her family – I feel the closeness they have.”

Turning to Joanne, Kath adds: “My heart goes out to you all and I’m honoured to come here. It’s such wonderful work that you’re doing here.”

Bobby Colleran's mum Joanne Colleran, L, with Kath Garrett
Bobby Colleran’s mum Joanne Colleran, L, with Kath Garrett

What Joanne has created in Bobby’s name is a truly remarkable achievement. Bobby’s Base in West Derby is a place filled with bright colours, imaginative play spaces and reflection rooms. It’s entire purpose is to prevent what happened to Bobby from ever happening to anyone else.

The impact the charity has had on the region is clear. Signage, road markings and safety advice is displayed across Liverpool, Sefton[5] and Knowsley[6] – the borough Bobby was born in.

Recognising Joanne’s work in establishing the Bobby Colleran Trust, a spokesperson for Knowsley Council[7] said: “Knowsley Council welcomes any initiative which highlights the importance of road safety, including the recently adopted Vision Zero strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries.

“The date which would have been Bobby’s 16th birthday is a tragic reminder of the importance of road safety. Our thoughts are with Bobby’s family at this time.”

More recently, they have opened up new facilities and now offer a bereavement service to children. The ‘Take Care for Bobby’ campaign is designed to address the growing need for greater mental health support for children and young people across the Liverpool City Region.

The initiative provides vital support services within the school environment by delivering a mental health awareness programme to kids across primary and secondary education.

The Trust now plans to open its own well-being centre for children and young people in Liverpool and is looking for support.

If you would like to support The Bobby Colleran Trust then please visit their fundraising page:[8]


  1. ^ West Derby (
  2. ^ Elderly woman given three word response by trader as she tried to enter St Johns Market (
  3. ^ ‘She’s punching her head in’: Mother’s Day brawl breaks out in packed restaurant (
  4. ^ Huyton (
  5. ^ Sefton (
  6. ^ Knowsley (
  7. ^ Knowsley Council (
  8. ^ (