Toddler James Manning choked on sausage as Butlins staff 'did nothing to help'

James Manning died at Southampton General Hospital (PA)

A mother whose two-year-old son died at a Butlin’s holiday park said staff “did nothing to help” as he choked on a piece of sausage.

James Manning was on a trip to Butlin’s in Bognor Regis with his mother and grandmother when tragedy struck on 6 June 2018.

Speaking at the inquest into his death, James’s mother Natalie Reeves said “it seemed like everybody was just standing around”, while two holidaymakers gave cardiopulmonary resuscitation to James.

The toddler’s grandmother also told assistant coroner Karen Harrold that Butlin’s staff did not assist with James as he was choking outside the resort’s Ocean Drive Restaurant, a claim Butlin’s does not accept.

James Manning's mother Natalie Reeves, left, and grandmother Angela Knight arrive at Centenary House in Crawley, West Sussex, for the inquest into his death (PA)

Just days before the incident, Miss Reeves had called to ask about James’ place on a hospital waiting list, and told a hospital secretary “if you do not do something for my son something bad is going to happen”.

James died on 20 June 2018 at Southampton General Hospital, two weeks after the incident at Butlin’s in Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

An inquest into his death began on Monday at Centenary House in Crawley. The inquest heard that James started choking while eating a sausage on the third day of their holiday.


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Miss Reeves said: “He must have had a piece that we hadn’t cut up small enough yet.

“At that point I said to mum, I think he’s choking, but I didn’t honestly know how big it was.”

She told the coroner that she rushed James out of the restaurant, laid him across her knees face down and started hitting him on the back, and performing the Heimlich manoeuvre to try to clear his airway.

Ms Knight, who was also present, said two women she thought were holidaymakers told her they were first aid trained and offered to help.

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Another man also hit James on the back to try to stop him choking before paramedics eventually arrived and James was taken to Southampton General Hospital.

Asked if she was aware of any Butlin’s staff being around to help, Ms Knight said some were present but “there weren’t any Butlin’s staff who helped with James”.

Chris Green, representing Butlin’s at the inquest, suggested that in fact six members of staff had been present, including two first aiders.

Ms Knight replied: “They may have been present, but they did not assist with James.”

Mr Green said this was not accepted by Butlin’s and a staff member would give evidence at the inquest in due course.

The inquest continues.