Sunderland blind firm joins safety campaign after death of Sophie Allen

homefair blinds

A COMPANY is joining calls to raise awareness of potentially deadly blind cords after a toddler was tragically killed.

Steve Ellithorn, whose Sunderland-based blinds company did not supply those which strangled little Sophie Allen, wants to raise awareness of how blinds can be made safe.

The firm’s showroom in Fawcett Street hands out information leaflets to potential customers and also provide safety devices for making older blinds more child-friendly.

But there are still millions of potentially deadly blinds in family homes across the country.

Sophie’s devastated parents, Peter Allen and Danielle Hudson, have joined the Echo with our campaign For Sophie’s Sake, to raise awareness of the dangers of blind cords.

They watched in agony as medics at Sunderland Royal Hospital and the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, battled to save Sophie in April.

Tragically, all efforts failed and Sophie’s life support was switched off in the early hours of April 26 after scans showed there was no activity in the toddler’s brain.

Homefair Blinds refuses to fit blinds unless they comply with new safety regulations, which came into force in February, and is offering free advice to anyone with concerns.

Steve, a 44-year-old father of two, said: “When I read about Sophie, I felt sick. It’s just the normal human reaction. I have children aged seven and nine.”

He added that new measures had been welcomed by the industry, but some customers still object to their blinds being fitted with safety devices.

He said: “People say, ‘I haven’t got any kids’, but if you buy a car, you can’t say you don’t want seatbelts because I’m not going to hit anything.

“What happens when you sell the car to someone else? If you move, your blinds are still in the house.

“People think it isn’t going to happen to them. We thought people would be more resistent when the legislation came in, but thankfully they were in the minority.”

At the two-year-old’s inquest earlier this month, the city’s senior coroner Derek Winter heard that 28 children in the UK have been strangled by looped cords since 1999 – 15 in the last four years.

Sophie’s parents said: “Too many children die because of blind cords. They have been banned in America and other countries.

“The reason being, children still have accidents with blind cords when safety devices are fitted.

“Devices have failed in the past – cord breakers have not snapped and clips on the walls have been able to be pulled off.

“Basically, these safety devices still don’t prevent blind cord accidents.’’

They added: “Our campaign is to make people aware and make them safe for the millions of people that already have blinds fitted in their homes.’’