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Grieving Family Demand Stair Safety Review In Leading Diy Chain

Concerns Over Safety In Stores



The grieving family of a woman who died after falling backwards down a flight of stairs that failed to meet safety standards in a local DIY store has demanded action amidst concerns the National chain was not taking the situation seriously.

Margaret Widgery, aged 83, was heading up to the second floor of her local Homebase Store in Godalming, Surrey but lost her balance as she moved to let someone pass her by.  She reached out for the handrail but due to the design of the stairs, it was unreachable.  She fell backwards and landed at the bottom of the stairs and lost consciousness.

The grandmother of four was rushed to The Royal Surrey Hospital but tragically died the next day. She never regained consciousness.  Her family have now instructed law firm Irwin Mitchell to help in their battle for justice and have demanded an immediate review of safety standards in stores across the country amidst concerns Homebase are not taking the death of their loved one seriously.

The family say they have received not received a single letter from Homebase expressing any concern to their welfare and the devastation it has caused to the family.

Alicia Townsend from law firm Irwin Mitchell is representing the family and said important lessons must be learnt to prevent further tragedy.  Alicia said: “An investigation by The Health & Safety Laboratory, (an agency of the Health & Safety Executive), following the incident found that the stairs at the Homebase Store in Godalming failed to reach safety standards.

“Such a blatant disregard for public safety has led to the death of one woman and it is of paramount importance that lessons are learnt and changes are made Nationwide to prevent other such tragedies.”

In a letter sent from them to Waverly Borough Council, Godalming it states that ‘the flight of stairs did not conform to the building regulations’ and revealed that given the lack of available handrail, a loss of balance on the first five steps was likely to result in a fall.

Margaret’s son, Andrew Widgery, age 60 is determined to get justice for his mother and to make sure no one else should have to suffer as his family have but has concerns that the DIY giant is not taking her death seriously.

He said: “After my mum died I was really concerned about the safety of other people visiting these stores so I went to a few myself.  I was pleased to see the Godalming store had made the stairway safe but for a significant period of time I went to others in and around the area I live and nothing had changed!  However, following a recent visit to the Guildford branch I note a recognition of the failings at Godalming had led to changes now being made to the stairway in that store also. 

“This could so easily have been prevented and I am just really worried that nationally nothing has been done to protect customers and that my mum’s death meant nothing to them.  She was a very active, independent vibrant and healthy individual for a woman of her age.  She was fully mobile and visited Spain on a very regular basis.  Her life was cut short due Homebase failing to ensure that she was safe when visiting their premises and her death has had a devastating effect upon our whole family.”

Alicia Townsend from Irwin Mitchell adds: “This has been an extremely difficult year for Mr Widgery and his family because of an accident that could have been prevented.  All businesses have a duty of care to ensure that members of the public visiting their site are safe.”