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Retired Norfolk GP died on cycling holiday in Netherlands, inquest hears

Dr Nicholas Ireland sustained spinal injuries and brain damage when he was thrown over parapet of wall

A coroner’s inquest has heard how a retired GP from Norfolk died from injuries sustained when he crashed over a wall while on a cycling holiday in the Netherlands.

BBC News reports that Dr Nicholas Ireland, aged 76, fell 1.5 metres after losing control of his bike and striking the parapet of a ha-ha wall located alongside the cycle path he was riding on.

A ha-ha wall is a type of landscaping feature that typically has raised ground on one side and a drop on the other, and was regularly used in the 18th Century to keep livestock out of formal gardens.

Dr Ireland, who lived in Freethorpe, Norfolk, was cycling with friends on the trail at Overveen, which lies between the North Sea and the city of Haarlem, when the incident happened on 9 June last year.

Doctor friends who were on holiday with him resuscitated him following the crash, and he was then taken to hospital in Amsterdam.

One, Dr Mike Baker, described how he witnessed Dr Ireland riding away from the path before striking the parapet.

He sustained a spinal injury in the fall and entered cardiac arrest, resulting in brain damage. He died in hospital five days later after his son and daughter decided to end medical treatment.

The retired GP had spent 42 years working at the Acle Medical Centre in the Norfolk Broads before his retirement two years ago, and afterwards cared for his wife Ann, who died last February.

A conclusion of accidental death was entered by Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake, who said that as requested by Dr Ireland’s daughter, Jessica Fisher, she would write to the relevant authorities in the Netherlands to see if the wall could be made safer.

Although it was not mentioned by the coroner, Ms Fisher said that her father had swerved to avoid a cyclist coming towards him who was overtaking a family who were out for a bike ride.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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