A Braunton pupil has taken vital carbon monoxide (CO) safety messages to the House of Commons after winning a competition run by industry body, Energy Networks Association, and supported locally by Wales & West Utilities.

Mia Freeman, age 6 who attends Caen Community Primary School, was chosen as Wales & West Utilities winning Key Stage 1 English entry of the ‘Get Creative, Be Safe’ competition.

The safety competition, which was launched at the beginning of the year by ex-British Lions player Tom Shanklin, urged children aged 5 to 11 to produce an eye-catching poster, poem or entry in another medium which was both informative and accurate and raised awareness of the dangers of CO poisoning and how to avoid them. The competition is supported by all UK gas networks, including the gas pipeline and emergency service for the south west of England and Wales, Wales & West Utilities.


L-R: Teacher Gwawr Darling, Peter Heaton-Jones MP, Mia Freeman, Wales & West Utilities Gary Sullivan and Mia's mother Holly Fairfax


Mia designed a poster which warned of the hidden dangers of carbon monoxide and useful information on steps should you smell gas.

As the winning entry from her category, Mia joined other regional winners at the House of Commons where she collected a trophy along with a £150 cash prize for herself and £300 for her school.

Commenting on her win, Mia said: “I loved drawing my poster and I am so happy that I won. Visiting London was really exciting!”

Holly Fairfax, Mia’s mother, said: "We are really proud of Mia. She is a budding artist in the making"

Gwawr Darling, teacher at Caen Community Primary School, added: "We are extremely proud of Mia and her winning poster. We had a fantastic and memorable day in London."

MP for North Devon, Peter Heaton-Jones, met with Mia to congratulate her on the win and said:

“Huge congratulations to Mia.  To have won this national competition is a great credit both to her and to Caen School.  Carbon Monoxide is the ‘silent killer' and I commend Wales & West Utilities for organising this important project.  I hope Mia's fantastic idea will very soon be helping to save lives.”

Known as the silent killer because you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, accidental – and therefore preventable - CO poisoning is responsible for around 40 deaths, 200 hospitalisations each year. In the UK, there are more than 4,000 visits to Accident and & Emergency for treatment of CO poisoning – which can often lead to lasting neurological damage.

Symptoms of CO poisoning are often confused with flu, especially in winter, as they include severe headaches, a sore throat, dizziness, coughing, feeling sick, and a general lack of energy.

Wales & West Utilities Head of Emergency Service, Clive Book, said:

“Mia captured key information about the hidden dangers of CO poisoning and she is a worthy winner.

“The competition was a huge success and this year we received more entries than any other gas network in the UK which we are delighted with. We hope that with everyone taking part they have been able to help spread the vital gas safety messages to their friends and loved ones.”

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, takes pride in serving Wales and the south west of England. If anyone smells gas, thinks they have a gas leak, or suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should call us on 0800 111 999 and our engineers will be there to help, day or night. 

Our team is also working on a multi-million pound, 30-year gas pipe investment programme which began in 2002. Old metal pipes within 30 metres of buildings are being upgraded to new long-lasting plastic ones with a lifespan of more than 80 years, to make sure homes and businesses continue to receive a safe and reliable gas supply now and in the future.