How a Poulton fairground accident changed the lives of a family

Jack Beckett was left with a series of serious injuries after falling from a funfair ride visiting Poulton as part of the towns gala celebrations last year
Jack Beckett was left with a series of serious injuries after falling from a funfair ride visiting Poulton as part of the towns gala celebrations last year
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The mum of a young boy who broke his skull in a ‘devastating’ accident on a funfair ride said the horrific event changed the lives of the whole family.

Speaking on the first anniversary of Jack Beckett-Chapman’s fall from a spinning bowl-style ride, Caroline said the youngster is still unable to attend mainstream school, and has been left needing regular check-ups.

She said: “Jack’s life, my life, the lives of our entire family have all changed because of that devastating accident 12 months ago.

“His experience was so traumatic and shocking, and his injuries were similar.”

Jack, then 12 but now 13, was airlifted from Cottam Hall playing fields in Poulton, where the funfair was visiting as part of the town’s annual gala celebrations, to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Merseyside.

There surgeons battled to first save his eyesight and then to restore blood supply to his right eye, which was cut off when his socket because displaced, risking his vision.

Caroline, 42, a child protection officer from Heron’s Reach, said lawyers are still investigating the accident, and said: “We just want to know what happened so that any possible improvements can make the ride safer in future.”

The Health and Safety Executive carried out its own investigation but decided no action against the fairground operator was needed.

A spokesman said: “An investigation found no evidence of breach of regulations by the operator.”

Steve Nicholls, chairman of Poulton Gala, said the ride operator was ‘exonerated’, and added: “CCTV cameras have been installed.”

He said the funfair is run separately from the gala but takes advantage of the bumper crowd.

The funfair, listed under the what’s on section at poultongala.org.uk, was set to get underway last night. It is also set to be held from 1pm-9.30pm today, and from 1pm-5.30pm tomorrow.

Jack, who went to Baines school in Highcross Road, Poulton, was visiting the fair with his older brother Charlie, now 14, and some friends when he chose to go on the tagada-style attraction, which sees riders sit in a spinning bowl and features hydraulic bouncing.

“He was thrown out of his seat and his head was trapped in the entrance gate to the ride,” Caroline, who was called to Cottam Hall by Charlie, told The Gazette shortly after the accident.

The ride was stopped and an off-duty medic came to Jack’s aid while a helicopter flew out to collect him.

As well as the four-hour op to repair his eye, the youngster had surgery to fix two bad breaks in his left hand and, on top of ongoing assessments, could face further surgery.

And with the gala returning to Poulton today, solicitors at Irwin Mitchell hope it will jog people’s memory, with an appeal launched for witnesses to come forward.

Serious injury specialist Richard Biggs said: “Caroline, Jack, and the rest of the family have had a testing 12 months since Jack’s devastating accident.”

Jack’s accident was not the first to have involved a tagada-style attraction.

In 2016, five teens were taken to hospital after an accident near the Scottish Airshow in Ayr.

“Punters on tagada-style rides – which have seats in a large spinning bowl – are not secured by seat belts or restraints as it tilts and dips,” a national paper said.