More tributes to tragic north Norfolk schoolgirl Martha Seaward - and anger over lack of action on ‘dangerous road’
11:57 13 January 2014
Pupils were returning to school in Sheringham today to console each other after the tragic death in a road accident of “wonderful student” Martha Seaward.
Martha, 15, was killed on the A148 near its junction with Lodge Hill, at the entrance to Sheringham Park, when she was in collision with a lorry.
But grief is mixed with anger in the villages near the accident scene as local councillors all renew long-standing demands that action is taken to make the stretch of road, which has the national speed limit of 60mph, safer.
The bubbly redhead was a pedestrian, on her way to work doing washing-up duty at The Wheatsheaf pub in West Beckham when the accident happened at about 5pm on Friday.
The middle child of nine, she lived with her family in Coronation Road, Holt, and was a pupil at Sheringham High School.
Police released a tribute from her devastated family describing Martha as: “a huge character and dearly loved by us all.”
Tim Roderick, head teacher at Sheringham High, said the death of someone with her whole life ahead was an absolute tragedy. Martha had been in her final year and was about to take her GCSEs.
“We will all miss her terribly,” he added. “We are a close-knit school and understandably we are all in a state of shock. Over the coming days we will pull together and find fitting ways to remember such a wonderful student.”
Wheatsheaf manager Mearchos Agathokleous said staff and regulars had been devastated and he had closed the pub immediately on Friday evening when they discovered what had happened.
“Martha was very, very bubbly - never sad. She was an extremely good worker - fast and clean. I was training her to be a waitress. She was mature for her years and could talk to adults politely and without being shy. We are all so sad.”
Jon Dorey , chairman of Upper Sheringham Parish Council, said he was saddened and very angry at the news. “The parish council has written numerous letters to the county council about the dangers of this junction but every idea was rejected. We have spent 8-10 years campaigning and feel that we are just banging our heads against a brick wall.”
In July 2011 local representatives had met with a county council highways officer on site to ask for safety measures but every suggestion had been dismissed.
“I am getting to the stage where I will lock myself to the gates of County Hall until something is done,” he added.
Mr Dorey said he had found it difficult to sleep on the night of the accident: “I kept thinking: ‘Have we tried hard enough?’”
North Norfolk District Councillor Anthea Sweeney said she had organised several petitions over the years and had also attended the July 2011 meeting.
“I remember clearly saying to them: ‘It won’t be long before somebody gets killed - and then perhaps you will do something.
“Pedestrians take their lives in their hands crossing that road. Cars whizz along at 60-70mph. There is no pavement and absolutely no safe place to cross.”
Traffic volumes had also increased enormously, particularly because of the popularity of the National Trust’s Sheringham Park.
County councillor and businessman Mike Baker said: “It’s horrendous and devastating for everybody concerned and I feel it especially because her mother, brother and sister work for me at Budgens.”
He will be contacting David Harrison, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways, pointing out the importance of getting something done at the junction.
“People have been campaigning for years and now it’s patently clear that they were right all along,” he said.
“It’s all very well having staff making decisions while sitting at desks but county highways need to take on board that local knowledge is actually worth an awful lot.”
■ Anyone who witnessed the accident or who saw a pedestrian in the area should contact Norfolk police’s Serious Collision Investigation Team on 101.