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Woman who retired early to live in the West Country dies after falling on seaside promenade Bath City News

A district judge who moved to the West Country to enjoy her retirement has died just two days after falling and hitting her head while walking in a seaside town.

Margaret Wilby was walking home alone when she fell in Sidmouth, Devon, on the morning of June 9, 2021, Devon Live reports.

On Wednesday March 16, at County Hall in Exeter, an inquest revealed how the 77-year-old had been fit and healthy until the incident. After the fall, she was helped by bystanders until her husband could arrive, but she eventually died of her injuries.

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Ms Wilby was born in Bolton and met her husband Philip in 1949 when they were in the same reception class at school and became childhood ‘playmates’.

She went on to achieve great educational success, including earning a law degree at the University of Exeter. She was called to the bar in 1965 and enjoyed a varied and successful career in law.

She was appointed as a lawyer in 1978, following the birth of their first child the previous year. She then became assistant recorder, recorder and then district judge.

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She took early retirement in 2006 to move to Devon to pursue an interest in archaeology. After completing an honors degree in the field at the University of Exeter, she was involved in various archaeological studies, excavations and cartography.

The mother of two and grandmother of four also had a passion for the piano. Her GP, Dr Sara Hadfield, described her as having been an “intelligent, shrewd and well-informed patient who held herself together”.

She said: “It was obviously an unfortunate accident.”

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Mr Wilby said that after his wife fell she showed him where it happened and stumbled at The Hams near the new Alma Bridge which opened in October 2020. He said he believed pedestrian access was deterred by a chain fence between wooden posts that had since been broken or removed during the construction of the bridge.

However, he said the chain barrier had not been replaced. Testimony to the location and the chain-link fence between the posts where Ms Wilby fell was heard by Christopher Holland, Clerk of Sidmouth City Council.

He said: “I understand the chains were more of a decorative measure than anything else.”

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He added that he was unaware that he had been there for the nine years he had been in office and that the area was subject to regular risk assessments which were the responsibility of the council.

The inquest heard the chain-link fence had not been raised in any assessment and he was not aware of any previous accidents or incidents at the scene. The Ham is a long, narrow plot of land – believed to be ham-shaped, hence its name – which is located at the eastern end of Sidmouth, at the mouth of the River Sid.

Sidmouth City Council’s trusteeship begins in the west just behind the brick paved roof of the reservoir of SWW and north to a narrow point at the end of Riverside.

The guardianship area includes the fishermen’s cabins, the children’s play area and the former boating/macerator lake. The area is intended for public and community use and recreation.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-18 00:00:00

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