Needham Market: Tributes to former film star killed at rail crossing
PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 September 2011 | UPDATED: 10:33 07 September 2011
TRIBUTES have been paid to a former film and television star killed at a rural rail crossing.
Brenda McFarland, known as Olive, died when she was hit by a train at the footpath crossing at Gipsy Lane in Needham Market on August 24.
An inquest into her death was opened and adjourned yesterday and will reopen at a later date.
The 82-year-old was a resident at Paddock House, a Suffolk County Council care home in Eye, but returned most days to her former farm in Creeting St Mary, just outside Needham Market.
Mrs McFarland had appeared in many television shows and films from the late 1950s to the mid 1970s, starring opposite Sean Connery in 1961’s The Frightened City.
She had left acting to pursue property restoration and breed horses.
Kym Denny, Paddock House home manager, said Mrs McFarland had been a “popular” resident at the home.
She said: “Olive has been a resident at Paddock House since January 2010 when she could not return home following a stay in hospital.
“She still made daily bus trips, followed by a short walk, back to her farm. She enjoyed her independence and was passionate about wildlife and the environment.
“Olive was a popular member of the home, well-liked and always made a positive contribution to the wellbeing of residents at Paddock House.
“All staff and residents wish to pass on to their sympathies Olive’s family and friends.”
A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said a review had already been conducted and it had been found that Mrs McFarland’s care had been appropriate.
She said: “The death of any of our residents is always sad and the staff who knew Mrs McFarland or worked in social care were devastated to hear what happened.
“Our adult safeguarding team has conducted a review of Mrs McFarland’s care arrangements and concluded that Paddock House was offering her appropriate care.
“She was capable of leaving the home unattended, which she had done regularly for a year.
“Staff always ensured that controls were in place to protect Mrs McFarland when she was outside the home and she always had a mobile phone in her possession.
“Mrs McFarland regularly followed the same path to her farm, even before living at Paddock House. This is a tragic accident and our thoughts are with her family and many friends.”
Following the accident, the Rail Accident Investigation Board revealed it would look at the fact there are no warning lights at the site.
It will publish the findings on its website at a later date.