A MOTHER and her four-month-old baby had a miraculous escape after a 30ft tree fell just yards from where they were sitting during celebrations for Armed Forces’ Day.

The frightening incident took place just after 2pm as hundreds of people crowded into Faringdon Road Park on Saturday for a family fun day.

Kesara Smith and her son Adam were sitting with friend Nid Newland in the shade of trees near the Faringdon Road entrance to the park when the tree came crashing down.

Witnesses described a cracking sound as the large tree split at the base and fell onto the pathway.

Mrs Smith, 32, of Saltash Road, Bridgemead, said: “I won’t sleep for thinking about my baby – I feel really lucky.”

Mrs Newland said that seconds before the tree fell they had been sat directly in its path after sitting down to wait for the queue at the ice cream van to subside.

“We wanted to buy an ice cream and we saw a large queue so we sat by the tree,” she said.

“I don’t know why, but I just really wanted to move.

“Then we heard this crack, crack, crack.

“We’re really lucky I thought to move to that side – we were standing over there.

“We’re a little bit shaken up.”

Coun Derique Montaut (Lab, Central) was with fellow councillors Bob Wright and Junab Ali at the time. He said: “We ran over and there was a sense of panic from people – we had to look to see if anyone was trapped under it.

“It was a miracle that nobody was under it because there was a lot of pedestrian traffic at that time.”

Brenda Allen, 74, of Ainsworth Road, Park South, said: “I was over that way and I just heard a crack.

“It’s a good job nobody was sitting there.

“It looked as though the trunk has split and one half has come down.”

Jackie Whitbread, 47, of Kingshill, Old Town, who was in the park with her niece Charli, 22, said: “We thought it might have been thunder and lightning from yesterday.

“Because it is quite a sizeable tree it could have been quite serious.”

Coun Montaut questioned whether Swindon Council was carrying out sufficient checks on the trees after recent cuts to its ground maintenance budget. He said: “What we cannot have is this type of thing happening in a public arena especially at a time when hundreds of people attend events like this.

“We need to make sure people can enjoy themselves in a safe environment.”

Tree surgeon John McConnell from Swindon Commercial Services, who attended the scene to clear the path, said the cause was most likely decay. The trees in the area should be checked every year or two and he said that there would be records for that.

He said: “It can still happen – the tree is in full leaf so you wouldn’t expect anything to happen.

“If there’s decaying trees in the area we take them down straight away, we don’t take any chances, but trees are unpredictable.”