Railings could have saved my husband’s life says widow

PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 May 2012

Alan Harding

Alan Harding

Rosemary Harding

A WIDOW says she believes her husband could still be alive today - if safety railings had been installed sooner along the seafront in Weston.

Rosemary Harding’s husband Alan died after falling from the seafront wall in 2010. However, as he had also suffered a heart attack either before or after the fall, an inquest could not determine what had caused his death.

But Mrs Harding firmly believes 76-year-old Alan could have been saved by the earlier installation of railings - and branded comments by North Somerset Council’s deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees at the time that railings were ‘health and safety gone mad’ as ‘upsetting’.

Mr Harding, a retired builder from Worle, described as a ‘lively’ and ‘active’ man by his widow, had been walking with his wife along the busy seafront on May 30, 2010, when the accident happened.

At the inquest held at Flax Bourton Coroners Court on April 30, Mrs Harding said her husband had sat on the sea wall near the arch between Knightstone Island and the Grand Pier.

She said she saw him reach into his inside jacket pocket and trouser pocket for something before he tumbled over the edge of the wall, falling about 12ft onto the concrete below and fracturing his skull. Either before or after he fell, the father-of-three went into cardiac arrest.

Onlookers, including a retired nurse, raced to help and tried to resuscitate Alan.

Paramedic Ian Buck and air ambulance specialist Dr Philip Cowburn tried to revive him, before he was taken to the Bristol Royal Infirmary, where he died that afternoon.

None of the medical staff who treated him said they could determine whether it was the head injury resulting from the fall or the heart attack which had caused his death.

Mrs Harding told the inquest that her husband had played golf only days before his death and had not shown any signs of distress on May 30.

Coroner Maria Voisin recorded a narrative verdict, and said that she had been satisfied with North Somerset Council’s steps to put up safety railings in 2011.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Harding said of the grandfather-of-seven: “He was very active and lively, he didn’t sit still at all. His grandchildren have all missed him terribly.

“If the railings had been there sooner then he may not have died. I think it was a failing on the council’s part not to put them up earlier.”

Referring to Cllr Ap Rees’ comments in which he told the Mercury that putting the railings up had been ‘health and safety gone mad’, she said: “It was quite upsetting that he chose to make those comments when someone had died.”

Mrs Harding’s solicitor, Jonathan Baden-Daintree, added: “Health and safety gone mad? A man died. He was not a man staggering home from a stag-do, this was something that could have happened to anyone, even a child.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Weston Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Weston Mercury