Mother pays tribute to 25-year-old son who fell from Norwich shopping centre

Photo: Bill Smith Photo: Bill Smith

David Bale david.bale2@archant.co.uk
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
8:59 AM

A mother has spoken for the first time about the death of her son, who took his own life at a Norwich shopping centre nearly a year ago.

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Donna Ramsey, 44, was too distraught to talk about the death of her son, Matthew Dunham, after he fell to his death at Castle Mall on 
May 9 last year.

But nearly a year after the tragedy she has paid tribute to the 25-year-old, who was battling depression.

She said: “I think you get a stereotype of someone who does what Matthew did, but depression can affect anybody, whatever their age or background. It has opened my eyes to that.

“I just want people to know that Matthew was a good, hard-working lad, who was sadly battling a vicious war with depression.”

She said she had not visited Castle Mall shopping centre since the tragedy. But the pain was brought back to her when another man fell to his death from the centre in March.

Castle Mall has since put up temporary hoardings on the upper levels of the shopping centre to prevent other tragedies.

Mrs Ramsey, from Spixworth, said her family, including husband Ian Ramsey – who brought Mr Dunham up following her split with his father, Christopher Snowling – and their children Jack, 17, and Rebecca, 15, would pay their respects on the first anniversary of his death, at a memorial garden at St Faith’s crematorium. In tribute, she said: “A year on we would like to remember a happy toddler, bright teenager and a hard-working young man, who showed care and love to those around him and had such creativity.”

Mr Dunham grew up in Spixworth and attended Cecil Gowing First School, Woodland View Middle School and Sprowston High School.

Mrs Ramsey said: “After finishing school he found his perfect job as a junior web developer. He eventually ran a blogging and forums site which had 50,000 members and more than one million visitors a month.

“He successfully sold this website and the next three years consisted of switching between jobs working for different web companies in Guildford and Cambridge, before returning to Norwich.”

She said her son fought a war with depression alone, before seeking the appropriate professional medical help.

“Matthew hid his illness from his family but was under the support of the mental health service during his final weeks.

“A close friend said at the funeral that ‘the Matthew Dunham in the last month of his life was not the man we all knew. He had been taken over by this terrible illness’.

“A year on we are still missing him. We are still wondering why, but we are not, and never will be, forgetting.”

At Mr Dunham’s inquest last September, the then Norfolk coroner William Armstrong criticised the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust for “fundamental deficiencies” in the way it treated Mr Dunham.

Andrew Hopkins, acting chief executive at the trust, said yesterday: “We are determined that all lessons learned will continue to be embedded into our work and, since Mr Dunham’s death, the trust conducted a full investigation into what happened and has reviewed the areas of policy and practice raised at the inquest.”

Mr Dunham had jumped from 
the fifth floor of the shopping 
centre, landing on the ground 
floor level and, despite the best efforts of medical staff, he died at the scene.

He had been living alone at a flat in St Augustine’s, Norwich, at the time.

Luther Hughes, 39, from Music House Lane, Norwich, died from multiple injuries following a fall from an upper balcony at the 
Castle Mall shopping centre on March 6.

An inquest into his death will be held later this year.

If you have feelings of anxiety and need help, contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90

Would you like to pay tribute to a loved one? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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