The close-knit community of Lurgashall is in shock after villager Louise Sword, 53, and her 13-year-old daughter Tabitha both died in a head-on collision while they were on a family holiday in South Africa.
Prayers have been said in the parish church of St Laurence, just a stone’s throw away from the house the Sword family made their home several years ago.
The Observer was unable to speak directly to the Rev Peter Hayes, priest in charge of St Laurence’s Church, Lurgashall, but he told the Haslemere Herald: “It was an absolute tragedy and it has affected the community deeply. I have visited several parishioners who have found it hard to reconcile how such a thing could have happened.
“The community is deeply saddened by the event, which has affected many people who are close friends.
“The church community sends the family its condolences and offers its prayers. Prayers were said at Sunday service and will continue to be said.”
One villager told the Observer: “The family have become part of the community, especially with other families with young children. The village was shocked to hear the news. We all respect the family’s need for quiet and privacy.”
The North Coast Courier, a newspaper in South Africa, reported that the Sword family was returning from a safari when the crash happened near Zinkwazi in KwaZulu-Natal province on August 10.
Zinkwazi, is a small town on the north coast. The spot is almost an hour’s drive along the coast from Durban. The Sword family are believed to have been driving to their lodge near Durban when the crash took place.
The Courier said Mrs Sword’s husband Alistair, 53, and son Benjamin, 11, were cut free from their vehicle by the emergency services and were airlifted to Lenmed Ethekweni hospital in a critical condition. They are now believed to be improving.
Mrs Sword was rushed to hospital but died later, while her daughter, Tabitha, died at the scene. The family’s SUV was reported to have been in collision with another car.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: “We are supporting a British family who were involved in a road accident in South Africa and are in contact with the local authorities.”
Mrs Sword’s brother, Tim Taylor, 55, is married to the Queen’s cousin Lady Helen Taylor.