Date: 14th February 2017
Mr Graham Gregory Balmforth. Solicitor Advocate for the Family
This is a statement On behalf of the family.
The death of a child is a powerful reminder that all human life is precious and we share a world teeming with dangers that we as adults frequently dismiss. In the 21st century however, no child should die in road traffic accident on school premises. In schools more than anywhere else the safety of children should be uppermost in everyones minds.
This school was constructed through a PFI initiative. It is clear from the evidence that we have heard in Court that the staff of the school were never satisfied with the design and layout provided and that they struggled to provide a secure and safe environment given the design restrictions imposed on them.
The family are pleased to note that presently the Health and Safety Executive investigations are ongoing and they look forward to these being made public.
Ashley was a fun loving and enthusiastic boy with a sensitive nature and a sunny disposition. Even in the face of adversity, Ashley loved nothing more than to make people smile and he will be forever missed by those who knew and loved him.
The utter loss and devastation following the accident has left the family broken and they will never come to terms with the death of their only son in such tragic circumstances.
It has been an extremely difficult wait for the family in reaching this point today, however they wish to thank the Coroner and his officers for the sensitivity they have demonstrated and for the continued support of the local and wider community. Ashley’s mother Melanie, has been diagnosed recently with advanced breast cancer and now faces radical surgery, she regrets not being present at the inquest but is regrettably, simply not fit to attend.
The family wish to channel their grief into a campaign for legal change and improved safety on school roads they are also grateful for the support passed onto them by Carolyn Harris MP whose own child died in similar circumstances.
The family wish to thank PC Keith Davies Sergeant Gethin Hewer and the Police team for their continued involvement and support during this time and for Mr Balmforth and Applebys Solicitors representation.
Ashley has been described as being ‘popular and well loved’ by his class mates, and the family want this to be the enduring memory of him.