Family of St Albans Ledignan accident survivor pay tribute to their ‘kind, generous and humorous’ daughter
06:00 11 February 2016
The grieving parents of Andrea Perkins, who suffered life-changing injuries in a coach trip which claimed seven lives, have paid tribute to their kind, generous and humorous daughter who has died aged 45.
Andrea, who had just moved to Hatfield from Wheathampstead when she died in Lister Hospital, Stevenage, on January 21, was confined to a wheelchair after the fateful accident in Ledignan, France, on May 29, 1985.
Five pupils from Beaumont and Verulam Schools in St Albans and a teacher died in the accident. Andrea, then 14, was the most badly injured of the survivors when she was catapulted through the front window of the coach after driver Harry Hughes suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage.
She never walked again but went on to live an independent life while still remaining close to dad Derek and mum Maureen.
Maureen said this week from her Park Street home: “She was a cheerful and very helpful girl. She was always there ready to help you and she was very generous. She was my best friend for 30 years.”
The couple thanked everyone who had offered help after the accident with people getting in touch from all over the country.
The events of that fateful day are still strong in their memory. Andrea and her brother Stacey had started at Beaumont School after the family moved to Jersey Farm in St Albans in 1984.
Shortly afterwards Andrea came home from school excited about the possibility of going on the water sports coach trip the schools were organising. Maureen said: “I let her go but I wish I never had let her go now.”
Maureen heard about the accident on her car radio while driving along Hatfield Road and by her own admission, turned her car around on two wheels and belted home.
The only information the couple could get was that Andrea had broken a leg but thanks to Derek’s employers in Watford, they were put straight on a plane to France. They found their daughter in a coma, with her head bandaged and concerns about bleeding on the brain.
Derek said: “The next day, they said we think she has broken her back.”
Andrea was kept in a coma for nine days and was brought back to the UK by air ambulance. She spent six months in Stanmore Hospital and although the hospital said she would never walk again, Maureen helped her daughter to get about with calipers and a frame daily until eventually Andrea decided not to continue with the therapy.
Maureen said: “She had to grow up very quickly after the accident.”
Andrea went back to Beaumont after the accident and had several jobs before spending six years not working. With the death of her maternal grandfather 14 months ago, to whom she was very close, Andrea went downhill. Maureen said: “She wasn’t as happy as she wanted to be and we found her a bungalow in Hatfield near to her brother.”
But by Christmas time she was very unwell and died in hospital with her family at her bedside. An inquest is to be held into her death.
Andrea’s funeral is being held at West Herts Crematorium in Garston at 1.20pm next Monday, February 15, and the family has extended an invitation to everyone who knew her.