THE MOTHER of a schoolgirl killed by falling cliff rocks has said she will be forever 'haunted' by the seaside tragedy.

Holly Forster's struggle to cope with the death of her nine-year-old daughter Harriet emerged yesterday at an inquest into the accident.

The family from Weston-on-the-Green were on holiday in the North Yorkshire village of Staithes in August, visiting Harriet's aunt, when she was hit by a falling boulder.

At the inquest at Scarborough Town Hall, North Yorkshire coroner Michael Oakley described her death as the most tragic he had seen in his 40-year career.

Harriet, a pupil at the Dragon School in Oxford, was hit by crumbling cliff face on Wednesday, August 8, as she and her mum tried to run away from the shower of stones.

A letter penned by Mrs Forster was read out at the inquest, but the coroner said she was unable to attend in person as she was still 'haunted day and night' by the horror.

The letter stated: "The sights and smells of that day are never far from my mind.

"Being without her, the apple of my eye and light of my life, causes me so much pain that I suspect I will never recover from.

"I would swap places with her in a heartbeat."

Mr Oakley said it was a case of being in the 'wrong place at the wrong time', but will now ask authorities for clearer warning signs and to consider a barrier around the cliff base.

John Woodhead, an engineer at Scarborough Borough Council, told the inquest that in two years there had been 55,000 recorded rock falls nearby.

Residents said visitors are often unaware of the precarious nature of the shale rock, it was said, although there is one red danger sign screwed to the cliff.

Mr Oakley told the inquest: "[Harriet] was hit by a particularly large boulder and despite the valiant efforts of off-site police and paramedics, as well as members of the public, they were unable to save her."

In her statement, Mrs Forster, a bar manager, told how she and her daughter had gone 'rock pebbling' to test a new camera.

She added that they were around 10ft from the cliff edge when she heard a 'scattering noise' and saw stones falling, including a rock that was 'about 2ft by a bit less than 2ft'.

She and Harriet were both hit as they fled and Mrs Forster desperately cried 'big rock, big rock' at her daughter, the inquest heard.

The mother added that, once the rock fall had ended, she saw daughter lying a short distance away with 'blue lips' and thought: "Don't be dead".

An off-duty police officer rushed over to perform CPR, before carrying Harriet away from the cliff on a child's surfboard to continue resuscitation.

Despite his efforts and that of an off-duty paramedic, and emergency services who arrived soon after, she died of multiple injuries to her head, chest and abdomen.

The coroner recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

Harriet is survived by her mum, her dad Roger – a boat builder – her sister Sophie and her brother Sam.

In September Harriet's sister, 27, told the Bicester Advertiser how the family had been 'struck with a sense of helplessness'.

Mrs Forster's letter read at the inquest, noted how 500 people attended Harriet's funeral at St Andrew's Church in North Oxford

She added: "Harriet could not have been more loved and cherished by all who knew her."

On Monday, Kirtlington CE Primary School near Bicester, where Harriet was a former pupil, invited people to contribute to a memory book about her.

An obituary published by The Guardian last month said intelligent Harriet 'giggled her way through every day' and was 'a force of nature'.