Climbing wall removed from shopping centre after girl, 9, ‘choked’

editorial image

The manager of a children’s activity business has been suspended from operating in thecentre:mk while an investigation is ongoing into claims a nine-year-old girl was ‘strangled’ while descending his climbing wall.

Josh Maye, who runs Josh Maye Mountaineering, has been accused of not reacting quickly enough after schoolgirl Miranda Vallance’s descent of the climbing wall in Middleton Hall went badly wrong.

Her mother, Lynn Vallance, says Mr Maye was not paying attention to her daughter as she struggled to breathe when her helmet became caught on one of the holds on the wall.

The shopping centre has confirmed an investigation is ongoing, and Mr Maye’s climbing wall has been ‘shut down’ as a result.

“My daughter was traumatised, upset, embarrassed and very distressed,” said Mrs Vallance. “The incident happened as she descended the wall and her helmet caught on to one of the plastic grooves on the wall.

“As the rope continued to descend she was left dangling on the wall, while the helmet strap tightened around her neck.

“I ushered to the attendant to get her down quick because she could not breathe or call out. At this point she was unable to speak, bright red in the face, choking, and with her little legs flaying around.

“I could not get over the barrier to reach her and free her myself so acted as best as I could by calling for the attendant – who then went up to free her ‘caught helmet’.

“I think the attendant was slow to respond. He attended to her helmet first and attempted to ‘unfree it’ but she was still choking, so I called to him to ‘lift her body up’ so she had a chance to breathe. It was all very frightening.”

Mr Maye says the climbing wall activity is part of a relatively new business. He describes himself as a ‘self employed outdoor instructor.’

In response to the claims, Mr Maye told the Citizen in a statement: “I believe every action is taken to ensure that each participant has an equally safe and enjoyable time whilst using the mobile climbing wall.

“Obviously with any activity there is an element of risk, which is what makes such events so popular. Every climber is briefed on ascending and descending the wall appropriately.

“Unfortunately, on this one occasion, Mrs Vallance’s daughter caught her helmet on one of the holds on the wall when descending and I feel my actions were the quickest, safest and most effective at that time.

“Since then we’ve amended the risk assessment for the wall to now include caught helmets as this type of incident has not happened before.

“My staff have now been briefed on how to deal with such an event, if it were to happen again, in the most efficient way possible.

“Josh Maye Mountaineering are sorry this incident occurred as the safety of our clients is of prime importance.”