Richard Stanley, inspirational filmmaker and campaigner for children

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Richard Stanley, filmmaker and advocacy advisor for the FIA Foundation, who crafted powerful documentary films on the human impact of road traffic injuries, has died after a long battle with cancer.

Over the past fifteen years his films for the Foundation have defined the charity’s work on road safety and sustainable mobility. He had a talent for capturing human stories on the frontline of the road traffic injury epidemic, interviewing bereaved parents, exhausted doctors and frustrated activists with great empathy and understanding. On location, Richard worked tirelessly from early morning (typically ready before dawn, with camera, for the start of the school journey, to film the daily conflict of children with traffic) until late into the night. Even when his illness prevented him from travelling he continued to work hard, editing and remotely supervising film shoots.

Through a long career working in development communications, with organisations including Unicef and Oxfam, Richard built important links between poverty campaigners and the road safety community. He secured interviews, and calls to action on road safety, from the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, amongst many others, greatly advancing the cause. His passion for social justice and the rights of children, and the case studies of child injury and endangerment that he researched and filmed, were a major influence on the advocacy and grant-making direction of the Foundation, and the establishment of the Child Health Initiative.

In 2008 he began working on a series of documentary films on the road traffic injury epidemic with movie star and FIA Foundation goodwill ambassador Michelle Yeoh. Together they filmed in countries including Vietnam, India, Costa Rica, Russia, South Africa and Cambodia. They visited hospitals dealing with the aftermath of road trauma, interviewed road traffic victims and the parents of injured children, and challenged politicians and road engineers. In 2009 the first of these films, ‘Turning Point’, was broadcast worldwide by the BBC in advance of the first Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety.

Richard’s films, contacts and strategic advocacy advice were integral and defining elements of the growing campaign for road safety to be recognised in the new iteration of global development goals. In 2015, shortly after road safety was included as a target in the new Sustainable Development Goals, one of Richard’s films opened the second Ministerial conference on road safety, held in Brasilia. Showcasing the stories of real people - a mother whose teenage son had been killed on his journey to school while crossing a controversial four lane highway in São Paulo; the scandalous underfunding of post-crash surgical care in Nairobi; the plight and uncertain future of a disabled six year old traffic crash survivor in Cambodia - Richard ensured that real lives were projected to the watching ministers and decision makers.

For Richard there was a personal historical connection to the work of the FIA Foundation, which was established by the world governing body of motor racing, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile: his father, Louis Stanley, had been a team principal and leading figure in Formula One in the 1960s and 1970s and, following a series of deaths and near-misses, was a pioneer of improved track safety and on site medical care, work which the Foundation supports today through its motor sport safety grants.

Richard Stanley initially worked as a journalist and producer for the BBC and British independent television. He was Communications Director for Oxfam, UK Appeals Director for the International Year of the Child in 1979 and worked with Unicef UK on global advocacy and, latterly, in-flight films for their highly successful British Airway ‘Change for Good’ fundraising scheme.

He is much missed by all the FIA Foundation team and the wider road safety community, for whom he worked so hard and with such great integrity, spirit and vision. Farewell friend.