A grandmother, who was injured while protecting school children from falling wall bars, has received £10,000 in compensation, with help from her union UNISON.

Julie Belcher, from Stourport on Severn, was working as a teaching assistant, at Hartlebury Church of England Primary School, in Hartlebury, in 2007, when a faulty frame fell off the wall in the sports hall.

The 49-year-old grabbed the bar to protect the six pupils standing nearby, but the bars landed on her thighs. She was left with severe bruising and swelling, whiplash to her head and shoulders and suffered from insomnia and nervousness.

Mrs Belcher was off work for seven weeks, while she underwent physiotherapy. Her left thigh has never fully recovered and it was recommended that she have plastic surgery to remove the lump that remains.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

A claim was settled against Speller Metcalfe Ltd, the firm that failed to secure the climbing frame to the wall.

Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary, said:

“This accident must have come as a shock to Julie and if it wasn’t for her quick thinking and selflessness some of the children may not have survived.

“I am happy that UNISON has managed to secure some compensation for Mrs Belcher, but it will not make up for the physical and mental scars caused by the incident.

“Safety must come first in schools and that means making sure equipment is regularly checked and maintained.”

Safety must come first in schools

Mrs Belcher said:

“It is shocking that the builder who put up the climbing frame must have known that it would fall so easily and injure somebody.

“I had six young children pulling out the equipment with me, who would have died if it had fallen on them.

“I have four grandchildren and you expect them to be safe when they go to school.

“The accident has changed my life and you can still see the lump through my clothing, I am desperate to have surgery as soon as possible.”

Louise Hepplestone, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: 

“This incident could have had horrific consequences. 

“Mrs Belcher’s quick thinking and reactions undoubtedly saved the young children in her care from being struck by the falling wall bars.”

This news story was also published by Birmingham Mail and The Shuttle.