A retired artist from Wandsworth has secured £20,000 compensation following injuries sustained when she fell on wet pigeon excrement whilst walking under a railway bridge in Battersea in May 2003. Lois Matcham, aged 64, secured the damages with the support of her union UNISON and personal injury specialists Thompsons Solicitors.

Ms Matcham is an artist and does sculptures and print work. She has lived in the Wandsworth area for over 40 years since she was a student at the Royal College of Art. She was working part time for Wandsworth Council until her retirement just before the accident. She explains: "There is a longstanding history of complaints from residents like myself and the local residents association, about the problems caused by pigeons roosting under the railway bridge, and their droppings falling onto the pavement below. As a result of the accident, I fractured my left arm which has caused me a lot of pain A local policeman witnessed my accident and also slipped and nearly fell on top of me himself whilst coming to my rescue."

"I was unsure what to do at first but then I was introduced to Thompsons Solicitors through my union Unison. It's a miracle that I did call them! I could not have secured the damages without their help. For a start it meant taking on two huge organisations - the first being Wandsworth Council as the Highway Authority who are meant to brush and cleanse the streets on a regular basis so as to keep them safe, and the second Network Rail as they were responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the railway bridge."

E Peers, Branch Secretary of UNISON, said: "We are very pleased with the outcome for our member. It serves as a strong reminder to all public and private organisations that Duty of Care issues must be taken seriously."

Commenting on Lois Matcham's case, her personal injury lawyer Kim Bouwer at Thompsons Solicitors, said: "As a result of the accident, Lois Matcham fractured her left arm close to the shoulder. Medical experts have predicted that the fracture will never entirely unite and that she will be left with some disability in her arm on a long term basis. The compensation is therefore wholly justified."