Competitors in the Ten Tors challenge. Photo: Oliver Bird CC-BY-SA-2.0

Competitors in the Ten Tors challenge. Photo: Oliver Bird CC-BY-SA-2.0

A coroner said that all adult supervisors in an annual challenge event should hold a nationally recognised qualification.

Greater Devon Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland made the recommendation after the jury delivered a narrative verdict into the death of Charlotte Shaw, the 14-year-old who died after falling into a Dartmoor stream during training for the 2007 Ten Tors Challenge.

Charlotte, a student at the private Edgehill College, now renamed Kingsley School, was with a group of ten when she fell into Walla Brook while trying to throw a rucksack across the water. She fell into the brook and was swept away. A post-mortem examination found she died of heart failure due to drowning and hypothermia.

Dr Earland also said teenagers taking part in the Ten Tors should have completed more than the two training exercises as a team required at present and that independent schools should be made aware of the Health and Safety Executive guidelines for outdoor activities under which state schools operate.

In its narrative verdict, the inquest jury noted that Chris Fuller, the Edgehill College teacher in charge of the teams, had not done a full moorland leader’s course. It also said many of the group had asked their teachers to take them off the moor.

Conditions on the moorland were poor, with heavy rain and winds.

The jury said all the children were cold and tired by the time they made the decision to cross the flooded brook, but that teachers had advised the young people not to try to cross the stream.

In narrative verdicts, introduced in 2004, a verdict into the circumstances of a death is recorded without attributing the cause to a named individual.

In December last year, Dr Earland halted the inquest after hearing evidence from some of Charlotte’s fellow students in order for criminal proceedings to be considered. However, the Crown Prosecution Service decided against bringing charges against anyone involved.

Charlotte’s mother Jennifer Wilkin-Shaw is suing the school and one of its teachers for negligence.

A statement from Kingsley School said: “”We are deeply saddened by the circumstances that led to Charlotte’s death and the narrative verdict of the inquest has acknowledged this was a tragic accident.

“We mourn Charlotte’s loss with her friends and family.”

The Ten Tors is a challenge involving up to 400 teams of six teenagers covering between 35 and 55 miles over two days and is organised by the Army.

The Walking Group Leader Award, administered by Mountain Leader Training England and the other home boards, is the nationally recognised qualification for leading and supervising groups in non-mountainous terrain such as Dartmoor.

Before taking the three-day assessment necessary to gain the award, candidates must have undertaken at least 40 hillwalking days and consolidated their training over a period of months.

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