'No winners' in fence panel incident says victim

TOWN CENTRE DRAMA: The air ambulance landed next to the town centre construction site where Valerie Hurst suffered life-changing injuries.

TOWN CENTRE DRAMA: The air ambulance landed next to the town centre construction site where Valerie Hurst suffered life-changing injuries.

First published in News Kidderminster Shuttle: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE woman who suffered life-changing head injuries when hit by a falling fence panel said there were “no winners” after a construction firm was fined.

Valerie Hurst, 56, of Kidderminster, spoke to The Shuttle after Kidderminster magistrates ordered Thomas Vale Construction to pay a total of £30,265 for breaching health and safety rules which meant the hoarding which struck her should have withstood a gust of wind.

In the incident outside Kidderminster’s Piano Building in May 2012 she suffered concussion and bruising on the brain and spent six weeks in hospital. She is still dealing with the injuries two years later.

Ms Hurst said: “I have to manage it. I havegood days, bad days and very bad days. I never know how I am going to feel until the morning when I wake up. My life is full of cancelled plans. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago my life was packed with things and there were not enough hours in the day – I had a really happy life and loved it.”

The former business administrator parked at Tesco during her lunch break and was walking to Debenhams when the hoarding fell on her.

Her return to work failed last year and she now works one afternoon a week in a charity shop and wants to help brain injury support service Headway. She has given up dancing and long walks and suffers from fatigue.

“I often wish I had not decided to go shopping but life is full of what-ifs,” she added. “It was a very black day in my life but I have met some amazing people as a result. When you have a brain injury you enter a world you do not know anything about. The medical people have been amazing and Headway have supported me wonderfully.”

Ms Hurst added: “I bear [Thomas Vale] no malice – they would not have wanted this to happen and I am sure they were as shocked as I was. The courts gave out a punishment but the biggest thing is there are no winners in this. They will lose money, have their reputation damaged and I do not regain my health or the old lifestyle I used to enjoy.”

She added she was “shocked” to hear one of the panels had fallen down two weeks before her incident but said: “I would like to put that to one side and concentrate on getting on with my life as best I can.”

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