At first sight it was a typically idyllic British scene. The local inn overlooked the village green where twenty-two men in white were engaged in a cricket game. Around the boundary people were sat in portable chairs or on rugs. Some spectators tucked into picnics; others enjoyed a pint of real ale from the pub or a Pimms from the on-site tent. A regular queue showed that the barbecue stall was doing excellent business with its burgers and hotdogs, and volunteers were selling light refreshments from the pavilion. Add children playing football or mini-cricket games and the odd local walking the dog, it was the perfect evening out. In true English fashion the only thing missing was the sun, but at least it wasn’t raining.
Anyone driving through Car Colston 23rd August might have assumed that they were witnessing a match between two village teams. However, closer scrutiny would have revealed that this was a much more special occasion. The cricket game was, in fact, a charity event featuring members of the Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and local cricketers who had been sponsored to take a place on one of the teams. The occasion had been jointly organised by Louise Reed (wife of Notts captain Chris) and Lynne Morgan (mother of Laura) to raise money for a new local charity the Laura Rose Memorial Trust and for Bowel CancerUK.
Many may be aware of Laura Rose Morgan, an 11 year old who lost her life in a sailing tragedy in Greece in 2003, as there has been much coverage both in local and national media. Lynne continues to campaign for justice for Laura. The Laura Rose Memorial Trust keeps Laura’s memory alive whilst bringing something positive out of the whole situation. Laura would have been 21 this year.
The trust has been set up with some key aims:
Lynne was able to contribute to the third of these objectives at the end of the match by presenting a cheque for £4,000 to Rainbows the children’s hospice.
Returning to the charity match, it was played under the exciting Twenty20 format and spectators were treated to fours and sixes a-plenty. The teams were led by Chris Read and Australian Adam Voges, and perhaps most excited player on the day will have been schoolboy Harry Ward. Harry plays forDevon’s under-13 team and is the grandson of Chris Read’s former coach who died of bowel cancer. Hence the joint nature of the charities supported. Harry went on to bowl the only maiden over of the game. Another father had secretly sponsored his son to play as a birthday treat – a lovely surprise. On the batting front best performance came from another amateur, Ilkeston’s George Essex who top scored with 54.
The game was undertaken is excellent spirit with plenty of banter and with the professionals ensuring that the amateurs were not overawed. The 10 over drinks break didn’t involve golf trolleys speeding onto the ground as per the Indian Premier League, or substitute fielders rushing out with racks of drink bottles, but rather team captains strolling sedately onto the outfield carrying trays brimming with glasses of lager. It all seemed rather appropriate. Also appropriate was the final result, both teams scored 163 runs so the outcome was an honorable draw.
Those wishing to offer the Laura Rose Memorial Trust further support may be interested to know that Lynne is organising a ceilidh in Lowdham Village Hall, Saturday 24th November, 7:30. Tickets cost £15 which includes live band Jigabit and ploughman’s supper. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The inquest into Laura’s death was held 16 – 20 January 2012 at HM Coroner’s Court, The Council House, Old Market Square, Nottingham. The Coroner is Miss Mairin Casey. The complete findings and verdict are printed here
Coroner’s Verdict 20.1.12
Press release issued 23 January 2012
ONE QUESTION REMAINS AFTER INQUEST INTO LAURA’S DEATH IN 2OO3 SUNSAIL SAILING HOLIDAY
Eight-and-a- half years after an eleven-year-old Nottinghamshire girl drowned while on holiday with in Greece, a week-long inquest has still left unclear why she could not be released from a trapeze harness beneath the overturned Hobie catamaran in which she had been sailing with two friends.
Laura Morgan, from Woodborough, Nottinghamshire, was on holiday with her mother, Lynne, and elder sister, Sarah, at the Club Vounaki resort run by theUKcompany, Sunsail, now part of TUI Travel plc., when the tragedy happened on July 31, 2003.
An inquest was opened in Nottingham a few days later, and adjourned pending legal proceedings inGreece. Since then, 7 Greek criminal court hearings have taken place, including two appeals to the Supreme Court inAthens. Two Sunsail employees accused of manslaughter by negligence received suspended prison sentences.
The Nottinghamshire coroner Mairin Casey recorded a narrative verdict at the resumed inquest inNottinghamlast week. In her findings, Miss Casey said that although Laura was not an experienced sailor, she had sailed a catamaran twice before the afternoon of July 31, always accompanied by the McCullough twins, who did have sailing experience.
Laura had never used a trapeze harness before the fateful afternoon, and, said the coroner, the procedure at the time provided for anyone with no previous experience to be briefed on land. The RYA guidance then and now is that a club ( Sunsail) holds responsibility for the safety of all guests engaged in water activities. Those who held managerial roles at the time accepted this.
However, Miss Casey continued: ‘I find there was no proper enquiry made to establish if Laura had prior experience of using a trapeze harness before she was allowed to go on the water. I find that Laura had no instruction on the use of a trapeze harness from someone trained and qualified to give that advice and guidance.’
The coroner specifically found there was no requirement to ensure that the Hobie catamaran should have been equipped with a masthead float. ‘I do find that if there had been, it would have reduced, but not eliminated, the risk of inversion after capsize and Laura might not have become entrapped.’ Two of the six hobie cats at Club Vounaki had masthead floats, the other 4 had been ordered at the beginning of the season but had not been delivered.
When the catamaran capsized after half-an-hour on the water, a rescue boat arrived within seconds. It quickly became apparent that Laura was unable to detach herself from the harness, but before the rescuer had the opportunity to try to release it, a gust of wind inverted the boat and Laura was submerged.
The coroner found that everyone involved in the rescue at this point were appropriately trained and equipped and had considerable sailing experience. There was no undue delay. ‘However, none of those in attendance were immediately able to release Laura from the harness. The reason for her entrapment was unclear at the time and remains so.’
Sunsail had introduced immediate changes in the days following the drowning, and thereafter. These included parental consent forms for the under-16s, including details of previous experience and competence of the child; grading wristbands; and the addition of a snorkel and mask to the rescue boat equipment.
In the years that followed, many changes in practices had been introduced through the Royal Yachting Association. The coroner said that any further, probable changes suggested by David Richie, RYA adviser present at the inquest as an expert witness, would be fully implemented by Sunsail.
Mr. Richie said that, in general, Sunsail’s safety record was excellent, but he was concerned about the level of training of the employee who was an Activities Assistant at the Kids Clubs and who, in her own words, ‘just happened to be there when they turned up’ . Mr Richie concluded ‘I don’t believe the briefing Laura received properly prepared her to use the harness.’
In a statement after the inquest, Mrs. Morgan said : ‘I would like to thank the coroner for providing a full and very detailed investigation in a British court. During the week most of the questions hade been answered. After eight-and-a-half years, I think we have almost reached journey’s end and finally achieved justice for Laura.
‘To my close friends and family who have supported me through all these dark years and through all this week, I say thank you.’
1. The coroners’ findings and verdict are directly taken from her written statement issued on completion of the inquest. Mrs. Morgan has her own copy.
2, Earlier this month the Greek Civil Court found Sunsail liable for Laura’s fatal accident and has awarded the Morgan family a six figure sum. Sunsail have appealed the judgement but an initial payout is enforceable.
3. The charitable trust the Laura Rose Memorial Trust has been set up to raise money to support children in conditions of hardship or for their education www.lrmt.co.uk
For any further information or comment from Mrs. Morgan, contact:
26 Smalls Croft
Home phone no: 0115-9654745
Mobile 07801 011 320
PR 15 jan 2012 NOTTINGHAM CORONER TO RULE ON 2003 GREEK HOLIDAY TRAGEDY
Eight-and-a-half years after an 11-year-old Woodborough schoolgirl drowned in a sailing tragedy in Greece, the Nottingham inquest into her death is at last to be completed.
Nottingham Girls High School pupil Laura Morgan drowned off Paleros, Greece on July 31, 2003, after being trapped in a trapeze harness beneath an overturned catamaran. She was on holiday with her mother, Lynne, and elder sister, Sarah, at the all inclusive Club Vounaki resort run by the UK company, Sunsail, now part of TUI Travel plc.
Dr. Nigel Chapman, the city coroner at the time, opened and adjourned the inquest, pending the outcome of legal proceedings inGreece. In the years since then, there have been seven court hearings, including two appeals to the Greek Supreme Court. Two Sunsail employees were found guilty of causing death through negligence and received suspended prison sentences.
Lynne Morgan will be among the witnesses when the current Nottingham coroner, Ms Mairin Casey, resumes the inquest at Nottingham Council House on Monday, January 16, at 10 a.m.
Lynne and Laura’s father, Graham, who were divorced shortly before the tragedy,have established the Laura Rose Memorial Trust www.lrmt.co.uk to advance the education of children and support children in hardship.
PR 12 Monday 26 July 2010
The last chapter has been written in a Nottinghamshire mother’s battle for justice – almost seven years to the day since her daughter drowned in a sailing tragedy in Greece.
Lynne Morgan, from Woodborough, has just heard from her Greek lawyers that the Supreme Court in Athens has rejected a final appeal by two employees of the UK-based company, Sunsail – resort manager William Hutton and beach manager Kevin Jones — against their convictions for causing death through negligence, for which they received 10-month prison sentences, suspended for three years.
Eleven-year-old Laura Morgan, drowned off Paleros,Greece, on July 31, 2003, when the trapeze harness she was allowed to wear could not be released and she was trapped beneath an overturned catamaran. She was on holiday with her mother and elder sister, Sarah, at Club Vounaki, Sunsail’s flagship Greek resort .
Since then, there have been seven court hearings, covering an initial criminal trial, an Appeal, an Appeal retrial and two Supreme Court hearings.
Along the way there have been four guilty verdicts pronounced.
During her seven-year ordeal, Lynne has made four emotional returns toGreeceto give evidence as a witness.
She has also faced an agonising five-month wait since February for the outcome of the second Supreme Court hearing – based on legal points – to be announced.
Lynne says: “This has been an enormously difficult emotional journey for me, and news of the appeal rejection comes at a particularly poignant time for me, with the anniversary of Laura’s death so imminent.
“But I was determined to see this through and attempt to get justice for Laura’s sake.
“Laura will always be with me every moment of every day, but, at last, the criminal court case is over and that brings an element of closure. I hope that Dr Chapman, the Nottingham coroner will now be able to complete the inquest and record a verdict.”
Lynne adds: “Sorrow is a lasting legacy, but so is the knowledge that Laura would want me to be positive and use this tragedy as a spur to help other young people.”
Lynne and Laura’s father, Graham, who were divorced shortly before the tragedy, have established the Laura Rose Memorial Trust (www.lrmt.co.uk), to help meet children’s education needs.
And, since last November, Lynne has been chairwoman of Y- Notts www.y-notts.org.uk which makes grants to local people aged under 30 to further their personal development and education.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION FROM:
26 Smalls Croft
Phone numbers: 0115 965 4745
Sunsail is now part of TUI Travel PLC – an international leisure travel company formed by the merger of First Choice Holidays PLC and the tourism division of TUI AG in 2007
PR 2 12 September 2005
An eleven-year-old girl who died in a holiday drowning tragedy two years ago will be commemorated on September 14 when a seat is dedicated to her name in a new wildlife garden at Nottingham Girls High School, where she was a pupil.
Laura Morgan died just a few weeks before she was due to transfer to the SeniorSchool. She had been a pupil at the Junior School for 4 years. Many of Laura’s school friends are expected to join her sister Sarah and mother Lynne –herself a High School old-girl and Local Governor — for the brief dedication ceremony.
Later in the evening, at the school’s Annual Prizegiving in the Albert Hall,Nottingham, Sarah, now 18, will receive awards for her recent A level success and a prize for being last year’s Head Girl.
In March this year, the school was also presented with a memorial hockey trophy to mark Laura’s love of the game.
The Laura Rose Memorial Trust to support needy children across the world has also been launched.
Laura was drowned on July 31, 2003, after being trapped in a harness underneath a capsized catamaran, while on a two-week watersports holiday with Lynne and Sarah at Club Vounaki, a Sunsail club hotel at Paleros on the Greek mainland near the island of Lefkada.
Four days after the seat dedication, Lynne will be flying to Greece for the trial of four men and a woman on charges related to Laura’s death.
The Laura Rose Memorial Trust is a registered charity – www.lrmt.co.uk
PR1 – March 2005
An eleven-year-old girl’s love of hockey will be commemorated on Friday (March 18) when a new trophy is presented at the final assembly of the term at Nottingham Girls High School .
Laura Morgan died in July 2003, whilst on holiday inGreece, just a few weeks before she was due to transfer to the senior school. Hockey was one of her favourite sports and she was a regular at South Nottingham Hockey Club junior training sessions.
The Laura Morgan Memorial Trophy for outstanding contribution to school hockey will be presented by her mother, Lynne, who is an old-girl of the school and a Governor. The first recipient will be 1st XI captain Danielle Paffard.
Laura’s sister, 18-year-old Sarah, is the current high school Head Girl, and was leading goalscorer for the Ist XI hockey team last year. She also plays regularly for South Nottingham Hockey Club Ladies teams.
“Hockey has played an important part in both my daughters’ lives and I know Laura would have thought it great to have her enjoyment of the game marked in this way,” said Lynne.