Tracey Seward’s story.
My Husband Mark was 49 years old, an experienced fitter, mechanic and engineer. He’d been working for AGD Equipment Ltd in Stratford-upon-Avon for just over two weeks, when he was killed as a metal shard from an exploding hydraulic cylinder hit him in the head.
At that moment, I was lost, I didn’t know what happened to Mark. The police, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) wanted to talk to me. My brother was an officer of the GMB union, and a member of Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) and he introduced me to Helen Clifford.
Helen was so kind, she acted as a friend who knew what she was talking about. The first thing she did for me was to be there as soon as the HSE came to see me, immediately after the accident. She accompanied me at every step, making sure I understood what was happening.
It’s about justice first, money comes later. That’s the way Helen works. I needed to get to the bottom of what happened to Mark. I could not have worked out how to get justice on my own. The most important thing Helen did was to be there for me, to explain the process as we went through it together, always in a caring manner. If it weren’t for Helen, where would I be?
She looked after me and Mark’s parents, explained the seriousness of the accident, reassured us it wasn’t his fault, and then set out to get justice for us.
When we first met, I was in shock; I didn’t think about how we would cope financially from now on. Mark’s accounts had been frozen when he was killed, Helen made sure Daisy and I could survive.
Helen went to court with us, by my side at every hearing, at the Inquest, and in all the meetings. We were amazed to find we weren’t allowed to speak at the court case against the employer, we had no voice. But Helen hired a QC to speak on our behalf. She’s so caring, and she gave me a voice.
It was a scary time, but we had the best people with me.
Helen won us compensation for me, our daughter Daisy, and my stepson, both under 18. The children’s needs are now covered, and the money is in Trust until they are 18. However, no compensation can make up for the loss of our life together with Mark.
In February 2017 at Warwick Crown Court, AGD Equipment were fined £800,000 for failing to tell Mark of the safe working pressure for the cylinder and provide adequate supervision for the task. The behaviour of AGD made our grief even worse. Apart from a bunch of flowers the day after Mark was killed, they have never sent any condolences, not a card, not a letter, not a message. No acknowledgements or remorse expressed by the company or its directors to me for their actions that killed Mark and deprived me and Daisy of our future years with him.
Life is different now. I take part in Workers Memorial Day. I want to tell Mark’s story, let others know how easily accidents can happen to them. It’s difficult, but important to tell. It might save someone’s life.