Retired Norfolk GP died on cycling holiday in Netherlands, inquest hears

Dr Nicholas Ireland sustained spinal injuries and brain damage when he was thrown over parapet of wall

A coroner’s inquest has heard how a retired GP from Norfolk died from injuries sustained when he crashed over a wall while on a cycling holiday in the Netherlands.

BBC News reports that Dr Nicholas Ireland, aged 76, fell 1.5 metres after losing control of his bike and striking the parapet of a ha-ha wall located alongside the cycle path he was riding on.

A ha-ha wall is a type of landscaping feature that typically has raised ground on one side and a drop on the other, and was regularly used in the 18th Century to keep livestock out of formal gardens.

Dr Ireland, who lived in Freethorpe, Norfolk, was cycling with friends on the trail at Overveen, which lies between the North Sea and the city of Haarlem, when the incident happened on 9 June last year.

Doctor friends who were on holiday with him resuscitated him following the crash, and he was then taken to hospital in Amsterdam.

One, Dr Mike Baker, described how he witnessed Dr Ireland riding away from the path before striking the parapet.

He sustained a spinal injury in the fall and entered cardiac arrest, resulting in brain damage. He died in hospital five days later after his son and daughter decided to end medical treatment.

The retired GP had spent 42 years working at the Acle Medical Centre in the Norfolk Broads before his retirement two years ago, and afterwards cared for his wife Ann, who died last February.

A conclusion of accidental death was entered by Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake, who said that as requested by Dr Ireland’s daughter, Jessica Fisher, she would write to the relevant authorities in the Netherlands to see if the wall could be made safer.

Although it was not mentioned by the coroner, Ms Fisher said that her father had swerved to avoid a cyclist coming towards him who was overtaking a family who were out for a bike ride.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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