Grieving daughter demands junction work

By James MortlockA GRIEVING daughter has called for urgent action to improve safety at a “treacherous” road junction where her father was fatally injured.

By James Mortlock

A GRIEVING daughter has called for urgent action to improve safety at a “treacherous” road junction where her father was fatally injured.

Second World War veteran Felix Sanders suffered serious head injuries when he was involved in a collision with a Vauxhall Astra as he walked across Eastgate Street in Bury St Edmunds at its junction with Cotton Lane.

The 87-year-old widower died the following morning at the town's West Suffolk Hospital.

His daughter, Mary Ann White paid an emotional tribute to her father yesterday and demanded action to improve the junction.

Mrs White, whose concerns were echoed by Independent borough councillor, David Nettleton and bosses at the sheltered housing complex where Mr Sanders lived, described the junction as “an absolute nightmare”.

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She believed traffic lights should be introduced to reduce the build-up of vehicles at the junction, coupled with a pelican crossing leading to the side gate of the Abbey Gardens.

“My father had come out of the side gate before the accident - the junction desperately needs looking at and improvements need to be made urgently,” said Mrs White.

Mr Nettleton said pedestrians were reluctant to walk to the nearest set of existing lights on Eastgate Street's junction with Northgate Street.

“There definitely needs to be something at Cotton Lane - lights have to be placed where people are crossing - it's no good putting them where they aren't crossing,” he added.

“This seems to have been waiting to happen and there is a distinct possibility something similar will happen again. I find it very difficult to cross the road there and I'm quite fast on my feet.”

Susan Holman, scheme manager at Redwood Gardens, where Mr Sanders had lived for the past five years, said: “Crossing there is awful.

“There are a lot of elderly people living in this area and they are particularly vulnerable. I would definitely back safety improvements.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council promised an investigation and added: “After every accident we look at whether any changes are needed, but particularly after a fatality.

“We will certainly work with the police once their investigation into this case is complete to see if anything needs to be done at this site.”

Mrs White said her father would be remembered as a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and his death had left a huge hole in the family's life.

Mr Sanders nursed his beloved wife, Mary, for six years as she developed senile dementia and Parkinson's Disease before she was forced to go into a home. After that, he visited her every day until she died in 1999.

Mrs White said the love the couple shared had been particularly special and added: “He was such a devoted husband.

“The staff at the home said they could see he went because he loved her, not out of duty. He visited every single day and would spend hours there.”

Mrs White said Mr Sanders built a career with a builders merchants in Essex and Suffolk and is credited with helping to turn Marlows in Bury St Edmunds into a major firm.

She added her father was a committed Christian who meant the world to his family. “He was my dad and gave us all his love and care. He was a wonderful, generous man who was very special to all of us,” said Mrs White.

Her daughter, Anna, 18, said her grandfather's experiences during the Second World War were among the things he was most proud of.

He wrote his memories down - producing a book entitled Dusty Amateurs about his time as a member of the Royal Horse Artillery.

Miss White said her grandfather had been involved in the legendary nine-month siege of Tobruk in north Africa.

One of his favourite stories was the bombing of a convoy that he was part of and she added: “He was the only person who survived and had to make his way across the desert following the stars.”

A funeral service for Mr Sanders - who also left another daughter, Joan Holland, who lives in Australia with her husband, Rick, and children, Wesley, 14, and Primrose, 12 - will be held at the Garland Street Baptist Church at 2pm on October 6.

n Anyone who witnessed the accident, which happened at 5pm on Wednesday, should contact Suffolk police on 01284 774100.

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