Festival-goer dies after ‘wooden horse smacks her in face’ at parade

Festival-goer, 34, dies in hospital from neck injuries after ‘wooden Obby Oss horse smacks her in face’ at traditional pagan May Day parade in Padstow

  • Laura Smallwood, from Padstow, was found collapsed on Wednesday evening 
  • She was with hundreds in Cornwall, for the annual May Day Obby Oss festival 
  • Officers are investigating reports she was hit by a large wooden horse costume 

A May Day festival reveller who suffered a serious neck injury during Cornwall’s traditional Obby Oss celebration has died this morning.  

Laura Smallwood, from Padstow, was found collapsed on Wednesday evening and reportedly fell unconscious before being resuscitated and airlifted to hospital.

Police are investigating exactly how she was injured but last night it was believed that she had been smacked in the jaw with a wooden horse which was used as a prop in the festivities.

And officers said it was possible the woman, who was flown to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, had also been assaulted by another female earlier in the evening. 

Laura Smallwood suffered a serious neck injury during Cornwall’s traditional Obby Oss celebration (festival pictured) and died in hospital this morning

Detective Inspector Paul Norlund said: ‘Our thoughts and sympathies are with Laura’s family at this very sad time.

‘We continue to follow a number of lines of enquiry to establish how Laura sustained her injuries.

‘At this time, we would like to hear from any witnesses and anyone with information, particularly anyone with any relevant mobile phone or camera footage taken around the event.’  

Officers at Devon and Cornwall police are now investigating reports she was hit by a Obby Oss – a large wooden horse costumes – while walking on a footpath.

Obby Oss horses are large oval frames covered in black oilskin, which have a small horse’s head at the front with a snapping jaw. 

The traditional event features two hobby horses – Old Oss and Blue Ribbon Oss – that parade through the town. 

They are large oval frames covered in black oilskin, which have a small horse’s head at the front with a snapping jaw. 

Male dancers wear them and catch women under a black cape as they parade through the town.   

The traditional event (pictured) features two hobby horses – Old Oss and Blue Ribbon Oss – that parade through the town

Last night, locals claimed the victim, understood to be a married mother-of-two, was in a coma after the ‘unfortunate accident’.

One local, who did not want to be named said: ‘If you’re near the horse when it’s swinging around you put your hand up to stop it hitting you on the head.’

She added: ‘This time… it slipped on the grass and it swung up and gave the woman an uppercut to the chin.’

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