On Friday 20th June 1930, a group of children from Badsey Council School were outside during their lunch break. Some were playing on a heap of chippings in the road when four-year-old Ronald Summers fell and was hit by a passing lorry.
Clifford Emmanuel Thomas Merrick Summers and his wife, Edith Anne (nee Surman) had married in Pershore in 1920, after his period of War service. They went on to have nine children between 1921 and 1940. Ronald was their third child, who was born in the Pershore area in 1926 before his family moved to Wickhamford. Another son, John, was born in Wickhamford in 1928. Clifford was employed at one time by Ted Carter of Pitchers Hill Farm as an agricultural labourer and to milk cows. After he contracted dermatitis, he could no longer doing the milking and became the miller at Wickhamford Mill. He was also the groundsman for Wickhamford Football Club. In 1933, another son, Gilbert, wrote a letter at Badsey School describing his father as a market gardener, with 5 acres of land, so Clifford had a varied career. Gilbert gave his address at this time as ‘5 Wickhamford’, which is now 5 Longdon Hill. By 1939, the Summers family lived at 14 Council Cottages, which is now 31 Pitchers Hill.
Ronald Summers was a pupil at Badsey School in the Infants Department and during lunch breaks the children were allowed out to play. At that time there were no safety gates and children were free to leave the school grounds. Whilst playing on a heap of chippings on the other side of School Lane, Ronald slipped and was hit by a passing brewery lorry belonging to Messrs Davenport Ltd of Bath-row, Birmingham. The lorry driver was making local deliveries. Ronald died at the scene at about 1.30 p.m. Many of the other children in the playground, who had witnessed the accident or its aftermath, had to be dragged away from the railings. Ronald had only started his schooling in Badsey the previous month, on the 5th May.
His funeral was held at St John the Baptist church in Wickhamford the following Wednesday, 25th June. His little coffin was carried by six of the Wickhamford branch of the Girl Guides under the supervision of Miss G. Turner. He was buried in the churchyard but no headstone exists. The location of his grave is shown in the plan below.
The funeral service was conducted by the vicar, Canon W. C. Allsebrook and was well attended by family and villagers. Mrs Morris, the Badsey Infant School Head was present and amongst the wreaths were those from Badsey School, the Sunday School and Messrs Davenport Ltd of Birmingham.
Mrs Morris was so distressed by the incident that she could only enter ‘Left’ in the ‘Cause of Leaving’ column of the School Admissions Register. At that time teachers were not responsible for their children during the mid-day break and the accident highlighted the need for this to be addressed. The Local Education Authority recommended that Mrs Morris contacted all parents of children under five to request that they made arrangements for the care of their children during the lunch break.
As a result of the accident it was decided to provide safety gates at the two entrances to the school premises but this request was not acted upon immediately. Badsey Parish Council took up the cause but the gates were not installed until the start of the Autumn term 1935, five years later.
Tom Locke & Maureen Spinks – November 2018