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Ronald Judd died after ladder fall in Gillingham, inquest hears

By Alan Smith

A man died while carrying out repairs on his boat in a dry-dock in Gillingham, an inquest heard.

Ronald Judd was alone in the warehouse at F.Parham Ltd in Pier Road when the ladder he was using to climb into the boat slipped to one side, throwing him to the ground on the afternoon of Thursday, May 18.

Although the fall was only in the region of 10ft, he was found in a pool of blood with a serious head injury.

Ronald Judd
Ronald Judd

He was flown by air ambulance to King’s College Hospital in London, but doctors quickly determined that his injuries were too severe to treat and would prove fatal.

He died the next day after his life-support machine was turned off.

His brother Stephen Judd told an inquest at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstonethat Mr Judd had taken in the ladder from his home. It was very lightweight and there was no evidence that Mr Judd had attempted to secure it.

Katrina Hepburn, the assistant coronor for Mid Kent and Medway, said that even though no one had witnessed the fall, she was satisfied that it had been accidental. The cause of death was injury to the brain.

Mr Judd, who was known as Ron, had no previous health conditions that might have contributed to the accident.

"He was a great guy, he became like the brother I never had" - Keith Hulks

The retired lock-keeper, 72, was a member and past commodore of the former Medway Motor Yacht Club (MMYC). He used to keep his boat in Medway Bridge Marina and was a lock-keeper at the Limehouse Basin on the Thames and at Brighton Marina.

He had most recently been living in East Sussex with his partner Caroline.

Keith Hulks, who knew Mr Judd for more than 30 years, paid tribute to him after his death. He said: “He was a great guy, he became like the brother I never had.

“I will always be so grateful to Ron. He opened up vast new horizons for me, I went to places I never would have thought of going.”

Nigel Jennings, also a past commodore of MMYC, said: “He was well known on the Medway when the yacht club was in its heyday in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“He maintained an interest in Medway, and came back to Gillingham Marina each year for the boat’s annual service.”

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