Stevenage mum slams Knebworth House as son, 5, goes under the knife after freak accident

PUBLISHED: 17:01 04 September 2020

Drone image of Knebworth House from the air. Picture: supplied by Knebworth House

Drone image of Knebworth House from the air. Picture: supplied by Knebworth House

Knebworth House

A mother from Stevenage has strongly criticised Knebworth House, after her five-year-old son suffered an injury to his knee following a freak accident at the stately home.

Before and after - Jack's knee is still recovering from last month's incident. Picture: Damon CarrBefore and after - Jack's knee is still recovering from last month's incident. Picture: Damon Carr

At the start of August, Damon Carr – who lives in Great Ashby – wanted to treat her children to a day out at Knebworth House, now it has reopened following the coronavirus lockdown.

Like many young boys, Jack wanted to play on the big slide – a popular attraction at the house which children can race down in a sack.

But Jack sustained a deep cut to his knee, as he was getting off the bottom of the slide, that would require surgery.

The family were due to go away on holiday later that week – but with Jack still recovering from his stay in hospital, those plans were shelved.

Damon says Jack's injury was caused by metal coming up from the 'big' slide at Knebworth House. Picture: Damon CarrDamon says Jack's injury was caused by metal coming up from the 'big' slide at Knebworth House. Picture: Damon Carr

Speaking on the day’s events, Damon said: “In my view, this was a serious accident.

“I’m not a medical professional, but I thought his bone was visible after the injury. It was really deep.

“Knebworth House just didn’t care. It really frustrated me.

“A five-year-old hurt himself and had to go to hospital because of their slide.

The 'big' slide at Knebworth House is a popular attraction for young children. Picture: Damon CarrThe 'big' slide at Knebworth House is a popular attraction for young children. Picture: Damon Carr

“When I contacted them, they said they had checked and the slide was safe. I would argue with that, as it quite clearly sliced my son’s knee open.

“I saw that metal was exposed on the equipment, and there was nothing else that was sharp on the slide. It was a preventable accident. They didn’t even call me to check on Jack after he had surgery.

“Worst of all, my friends that were there on the day say the slide was reopened as soon as we left.”

In response, a spokeswoman for Knebworth House said: “The slides were closed immediately after Jack’s accident.

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“Once Jack had left the park for hospital with his parents, the head of maintenance and park operations manager checked and risk-assessed the slides thoroughly. There was no blood on the slide and they were deemed safe and then reopened for the rest of the day.”

Jack’s mum Damon added: “I think the young man who was supervising the slide was more shocked than I was. I’m a mum of three boys, you know they’re going to get bumps and bruises. He told me he can’t perform first aid because of COVID.

“Luckily, I have basic first aid training myself. I was given a sterile wipe, but it wasn’t wet. I was given a bandage and did what I could.”

An ambulance was called, but Damon was told there would be a wait of between four and five hours as Jack was conscious and not a priority.

She says she asked for a stretcher to help carry her injured son back to her car, but was not provided one.

Damon says she had to call her husband to come to Knebworth House, who had to carry their son up the slide and back to their car and then drove him to the A&E at Lister Hospital.

Jack underwent surgery the next day, with doctors concerned he may have damaged his cartilage. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case, and Jack is recovering well at home.

Knebworth House’s spokeswoman continued: “Our staff do their very best to offer first aid and advise as appropriate, support the family as needed, and review any incidents to ensure best practice and the best experience.

“Whilst it is not a legal requirement to provide first aid, we do believe it is best practice and good customer care to provide this.

“The supervisor/first aider on duty attended the family after the accident with a first aid box, and followed the current COVID-19 protocol by offering assistance, and asking the mother to administer first aid under his supervision.

“The duty manager arrived, and at this point the leg was kept straight and bandaged. They supported the family and called for the ambulance. The child was comfortable and the duty manager remained on site.

“The slide was checked before the season by an outside contractor, is checked daily, and after the accident checked by the head of maintenance and park operations manager – and since by North Herts District Council Environmental Health as well as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.”

Knebworth House also said that an accident report was completed after the incident, and that equipment is checked by staff and the on-site maintenance team daily.

More than 38,000 people have visited Knebworth House’s playground since it re-opened on July 4.


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