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Ludlow Legionnaires’ disease death confirmed by inquest

By Aimee Jones | Ludlow | News | Published: | Last Updated:

A woman died after contracting Legionnaires’ disease at a Ludlow hotel while on holiday, an inquest jury has concluded.

Elaine Brown died aged 69 after contracting Legionnaires’ disease

Elaine Esther Brown, 69, picked up the fatal infection at the Feathers Hotel where she stayed with her husband Graham on July 30, 2017.

She died on August 26 at Royal Liverpool University Hospital from a stroke contributed to by legionella pneumonia.

Senior coroner for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, John Ellery, asked a panel of 10 jury members to decide from the evidence whether Mrs Brown contracted the disease at the Feathers Hotel or not.

Narrative conclusion

The jury unanimously decided on a narrative conclusion which was read out by Mr Ellery.

He said: “Mr and Mrs Brown stayed at the Feathers Hotel, Ludlow, where she contracted legionella pneumonia which contributed to her stroke and subsequently killer her.

“She died at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital on August 26 at 11.15pm.”

The Feathers Hotel in the Bull Ring, Ludlow

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Mr and Mrs Brown were in Ludlow as part of an organised coach trip where they visited Warwick and Lincoln earlier in the day.

They both showered and cleaned their teeth at the hotel on July 31 before heading out into the town to see Ludlow Castle and the market.

A statement read out on the first day of the inquest from Mr Brown, who died last month, said his wife enjoyed the trip but fell ill about 12 days after they returned home to Liverpool.

He phoned for an ambulance when she could not get out of bed on August 13.

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The following morning she was transferred to the intensive care unit and put on a ventilator until August 26.

New owners and new plumbing for hotel

The Feathers Hotel, which closed after Mrs Brown’s death, is set to reopen with new owners later this year once a new plumbing system has been installed.

Senior coroner for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, John Ellery, said he is satisfied that the hotel will not open until the risk of legionella is removed.

"I have decided not to issue a report to prevent future deaths," he said.

Coroner John Ellery

"The hotel remains closed pending major works to be carried out, including completely replacing the whole plumbing system."

It was confirmed in December 2018 that the Feathers had been bought by Birmingham-based Crest Hotels.

The privately-owned group has pledged to invest more than £500,000 to refurbish the 17th century 40-bedroom hotel ahead of its relaunch.

The company plans to refurbish all 40 rooms as well as the reception area, four function rooms, restaurant and bar.

Previous legionella cases

The inquest also heard that the former director of the hotel, Tim Ceney, was alerted by Shropshire Council in 2015 that there was a confirmed case of legionella in the Midlands and that the patient, Derek Taylor, had stayed at the hotel during the incubation period.

However, the email did not suggest Mr Taylor contracted it at the Feathers Hotel.

Ian Taylor used to be the hotel's general manager

Following the news, Mr Ceney got a quote from Grange Plumbing Services Ltd, based in Leominster, to chlorinate the old water tanks.

A programme of works was carried out and Mr Ceney said at that point he believed the risk of legionella had been eliminated.

However in April 2017, hotel guest Doreen McCarick stayed in room 243 and contracted legionella.

Bacteria

The plumbing company, owned by Ewen Grange, returned to the hotel and sterilised the whole water system but traces of bacteria remained.

Mr Grange told the inquest at that point he believed the legionella must have been in a deadleg - a length of old pipe which contains stagnant water that cannot be flushed out.

"It was very difficult to determine because the piece of pipe is usually found in walls and can't be seen," he said.

"We searched as much as we could to find the deadleg and it was removed on June 20, 2017. After it was removed, the legionella results came back clear."

But just a month later, Mrs Brown stayed in room 133 and contracted the disease.

Tim Ceney, former director of the hotel, outside Shirehall

Former hotel manager of 14 years, Ian Taylor, told the inquest that he was deeply sorry that Mrs Brown had become ill following a stay at the Feathers Hotel.

He said after he was alerted that legionella was present in the system a programme of rectification work was carried out and completed by February 2017.

Mr Taylor added that there was regular tap flushing, temperature readings and shower head cleaning in an attempt to prevent the bacteria from forming.

He added: "After Mrs Brown's death the Feathers worked tirelessly in relation to its legionella risk. Due to the nature of the building, it has been a complicated and difficult process."

Aimee Jones

By Aimee Jones
@aimeejones_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Shrewsbury office, covering Shrewsbury, North Shropshire and South Shropshire.

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