Orphaned child says mother's fall from balcony in Morocco was an accident
Published 30/08/2011 | 09:59
One of the children orphaned when their parents died in separate falls during a family holiday to Morocco has described the moment his mother fell from a third-floor balcony.
The boy told relatives that Mathilde Lamb — who was known as Tilly — had been leaning out of their apartment window to remonstrate with a group of people arguing outside in the street when she lost her balance and fell.
Her husband, Roger, 47, died four days later when he apparently jumped from the balcony of a nearby hotel in the town of Essaouira. There had been reports that the couple, from Pensham, near Pershore, Worcs, had a “furious row” in the moments before Mrs Lamb fell to her death.
But one of their four sons, who was in the apartment at the time of the incident, denied that was the case.
Yesterday, Mrs Lamb’s brother-in-law, Mark Rogerson, described what one of the children had seen.
“On the night in question, there was a great deal of noise outside the apartment,” he said. “It was Ramadan and so there was a real din in the street as people celebrated the end of the fast.
“The family were all in bed and were finding the noise quite annoying. But then a bit later, an argument broke out between some people downstairs right in front of the apartment.
“Someone then started banging on the door downstairs and Tilly became quite angry. She went to the window to see who was knocking and to tell them in no uncertain terms to clear off.
“Unfortunately because the awning downstairs was blocking her view she couldn’t see what was going on and according to her son, she climbed up on to the balustrade to get a better view. She was leaning out when she overbalanced and fell.
“Roger ran straight outside and found Tilly lying in the street.
“Understandably, there has been a great deal of confusion about the events and everyone involved has been in shock and struggling to come to terms with things, but from what we can gather, having spoken to the boys, it was simply a tragic accident.
“We don’t think the balustrade gave way, it sounds as if Tilly just leant out too far and lost her balance.”
Mr Lamb, who was a geotechnical engineer analysing earth materials, had been working in New Zealand and the family had gone on holiday to discuss the possibility of moving there permanently.
Mr Rogerson said any suggestion that there had been tension between Mr Lamb and his wife about the move was not true.
“There was no row in the apartment,” he said. “The family were happy and excited about the future. That is one of the real tragedies of this. They had gone away to discuss the future and the opportunities that lay ahead of them.
“There had been reports of a row in the apartment, but the room is on the third floor, so to suggest that someone in the street — where there was a real din going on — could hear a row going on inside is just not plausible. There was a row going on that night, but it was in the street downstairs. As soon as we heard what had happened to Tilly, two of the family flew out to Morocco to be with Roger and the boys.
“Roger was in a truly terrible way. He was in a state of deep shock. He was wandering around almost as if he was in a trance. He was completely devastated. It was as if his whole life had fallen apart.
“He and Tilly had known each other since they were teenagers and had been married for 20 years. One can only imagine what he was going through.”
The couple’s four sons, aged between nine and 16, have flown back to Britain and are staying with Mrs Lamb’s sister Charlotte and her husband Rupert Sebag-Montefiore, who is the chairman of Savills, the estate agents, and brother of Simon Sebag-Montefiore, the author and historian.
Residents in the couple’s village in Worcestershire said they had been an integral part of the community and their loss was deeply shocking. The Rev Terry Henderson, rector for nearby Great Comberton, where Mrs Lamb’s elderly mother lives, said both had been involved with the local school.
“They were very much a part of the community through the school,” he said. “In a small rural community like this where people are known so well, the community is traumatised.”