Penarth man fights for justice for his brother, ten years on from his tragic death during a college trip

  Posted: 13.09.21 at 11:24 by Ellyn Wright

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A Penarth man and his family are still searching for answers as they approach the ten-year anniversary of their relative Glyn Summers' death while on a college trip to Spain.

Sion Summers, 32, is petitioning the Welsh Parliament to improve child safeguarding policies at Further Education colleges and conduct a full public independent investigation into his brother’s death in 2011.

But he also wants Ystrad Mynach College (now known as Coleg y Cymoedd) to apologise for its role in Glyn’s death.

Aged 17, Glyn went on a college trip to Spain. In a letter seen by Nub News the college admits that staff used “professional judgement” in giving him and other students permission to go to a club.

Later that night Glyn tragically fell from his hotel balcony and died a week later in hospital.

“That was just irresponsible of the teachers, to allow him and his friends to go, who were all underage,” said Sion.

Glyn Summers, who died while on a college trip in Spain

“Glyn was brought home from the club feeling unwell and put to bed. But the teachers were miles away at another bar drinking, and later that night he slipped off the balcony.

“If the tutors had been around, perhaps things would have been different. But it’s still completely inappropriate to allow underage children to go to a club.”

Sion described how his parents flew to Spain after the incident, where they were told by college staff that Glyn had jumped from his balcony.

However one year later, Sion says the family saw a translated police report in which eyewitnesses report Glyn falling.

“The lead staff member, who wasn’t even present at the incident, said that Glyn jumped, and my parents took that as gospel,” said Sion.

“Glyn was a happy chap; he was our family’s entertainer. It wouldn’t make sense for him to commit suicide, like we were led to believe.

“We also found out that days after the incident, this tutor called Glyn’s private insurance company and told them that Glyn jumped and that he had been drinking.

“As a result, the insurance refused to pay for my parent’s travel costs and Glyn’s medical bills.

“Their son was in a critical condition, and they were simultaneously battling with the insurance company. Believing he committed suicide, only to find out that was a fabrication, it’s just cruel.”

A decade-long uphill battle

In the years after his brother’s death, Sion and the Summers family have sought answers any way they can, piecing together information from police reports, eyewitnesses, other people on the trip and case notes.

But Sion says they still do not have the full story of what happened that fateful night and have been unable to grieve for their loss.

“Glyn isn’t coming back, and the worst thing is how the college has dealt with the aftermath. Still to this day, we don’t have any meaningful exchange with them,” said Sion.

“It’s been an uphill battle because the college are now refusing to release the details of its internal investigation, because of confidentiality reasons.

“The college are hiding behind a confidentiality clause and failing to provide their duty of care for Glyn and our family.”

Searching for closure

Sion has set up a petition, asking Welsh Parliament to investigate Glyn’s accident and proposing stricter legislation for Further Education colleges, which are not subject to the same requirements as schools.

Sion’s petition currently has 800 signatures, which means it will be discussed by the Petitions Committee.

Karen Phillips, Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said the college has “endeavoured to do as much as permitted” to give Sion’s family the information they need.

“The death of Glyn Summers, during an overseas trip in 2011 organised by the former College Ystrad Mynach, was a tragic accident that was deeply distressing for family and friends as well as staff and fellow students who continue to feel his loss,” said Ms Phillips.

“Coleg y Cymoedd assumed responsibility for the College Ystrad Mynach in 2013, following the merger of that college with the former Coleg Morgannwg.

“While no members of the former college’s leadership team are now employed at Coleg y Cymoedd, as the successor college we have always endeavoured to do as much as we are permitted to give Glyn’s parents the information which they have requested. We have taken a similar approach in liaising with Welsh Government. However, legal constraints prevent us offering unrestricted access to the documents in this case.

“Since becoming Principal of the successor college in January 2019, I have offered to meet with Glyn’s family on three occasions in the hope that I might illustrate how the lessons learned from their tragic loss have resulted in significant enhancements regarding educational trips at all Welsh education providers.

“The safety and wellbeing of the students in our care is, and always will be, the over-riding priority for Coleg y Cymoedd. Our safeguarding policies, procedures and practices are constantly monitored to ensure the safety of all students participating in college trips and other activities.

“Our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with Glyn’s family and loved ones.”

Sion explained that his family needs an apology from the college.

“We’re not looking to go down a legal route and have years of more pain," he said.

“We just want to make sure that there are things in place to safeguard children in the first instance, and for the college to apologise for their lies and misconduct.

“Because of that we’ve never had closure and we want to ensure the college has learnt from its mistakes to ensure this never happens again.

“We want Glyn’s story to be told truthfully, as we approach the anniversary of his death.”

Click here to view the petition, which will run until 14 September.

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