Safety review launched at Hampstead Heath ponds after death of Sussie Ahlburg

Safety review launched at Hampstead Heath ponds and lido after Sussie Ahlburgs death. Picture: Isab

Safety review launched at Hampstead Heath ponds and lido after Sussie Ahlburgs death. Picture: Isabelle Busnel - Credit: Archant

The safety of all swimming facilities on Hampstead Heath is to be reviewed following the death of photographer Sussie Ahlburg.

Kenwood Ladies' Bathing Pond was closed following the death of Sussie Ahlburg. Picture: Polly Hancoc

Kenwood Ladies' Bathing Pond was closed following the death of Sussie Ahlburg. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The City of London Corporation, which runs the Heath, confirmed this week that an independent risk assessor has been commissioned to look at all three bathing ponds and the Parliament Hill Lido.

A corporation spokesman said that it was “important for any service provider to review its operation” after such a serious incident.

He added that an annual audit had been carried out in June by a swimming safety expert, who found the ponds and lido “well managed and safe”.

Heath staff are also working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as the government agency considers whether to launch a probe into the tragic death of Ms Ahlburg, 50.


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An HSE spokesman said: “We are making initial inquiries alongside the police and then we will consider launching a formal investigation.”

The Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond reopened on Saturday morning after being closed to the public for five days to aid police inquiries and out of respect, after the mother-of-two’s body was found by police divers last Monday.

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Catherine Cinnamon, of the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association, described the mood this week at the much-loved swimming spot as thoughtful and reflective.

She said: “The atmosphere is very respectful and mindful of what’s happened. There was a very thoughtful and reflective mood.

“I think that Sussie really enjoyed and loved swimming there and that’s what the place was all about – it’s a very peaceful, reflective space for women.”

She added that the association would seek to speak to Heath bosses and Ms Ahlburg’s family about the possibility of some kind of memorial being created.

The death remains a mystery after a post-mortem proved inconclusive. Police are awaiting the results of further tests, while an inquest was opened and adjourned at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Monday.

Ms Ahlburg, of Holborn, was a successful photographer whose work had featured in publications including Vogue, The Wall Street Journal and the Ham&High.

She was reported missing by her family after failing to return home on Sunday, August 4.

Her death was the first at the Heath’s ponds in at least a decade.

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