18th Baroness Darcy de Knayth - Stories from the graves

This month we return to our series of features from Walstead Burial ground with the story of a remarkable woman who, despite suffering horrific injuries in a car accident, went on to become an Olympic medallist and one of the county’s leading campaigners for disabled rights: Davina Marcia Ingrams, 18th Baroness Darcy de Knayth.

By Claire Cooper

Born on 10th July 1938, Davina Marcia Herbert was the daughter of Vida (Cuthbert) and, Sqn Ldr Viscount Clive, the 17th Baron Darcy de Knayth.

Sadly, when she was just five years old, her father died in action in 1943 flying a Mosquito as a squadron leader in the RAF. His death meant Davina became the 18th Baroness Darcy, the youngest British baroness in her own right.

Brought up by her mother and stepfather, Brigadier Derek Schreiber, she was educated at St Mary’s school, Wantage, Oxfordshire. After leaving Wantage, she took a secretarial course and spent a year in Italy and at the Sorbonne in Paris. Blonde, pretty and with a title of her own, the press regarded her as the ‘catch of the season’.

On 1st March 1960 Davina married company director Rupert Ingrams (the brother of journalist and Private Eye editor Richard Ingrams). They had three children - a son and two daughters.

Tragedy struck in 1964 when Davina and her husband were involved in a serious accident. Returning from a dance, their car hit a tree. Rupert was killed outright, and Davina suffered injuries to her face and spine. She was cut free from the wreckage and taken to Cuckfield Hospital, but flown by helicopter to Stoke Manderville Hospital where it was discovered that she was paralysed from the neck down.

She spent a year in hospital and later recovered some movement in her upper body.

Davina became a wheelchair user, but was determined to live as normal a life as possible, and had a car converted so she could drive her three young children.

She also took up table tennis and archery and went on to become one of the leading voices in the campaign that led to the creation of the Paralympic Games.

Read full article on pages 30/31.