A holiday that turned to tragedy: Hemsby student murdered in Thailand

Thailand island of Koh Tao

Thailand island of Koh Tao - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When Hannah Witheridge set off on her Thailand adventure she had the world at her feet.

Final preparations under way at the show ground for the EDP Wedding Show. Hannah Witheridge puts the

Final preparations under way at the show ground for the EDP Wedding Show. Hannah Witheridge puts the finishing touches to the chairs for the catwalk show. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Bright, beautiful and a UEA graduate she no doubt expected her expedition to be just the break she needed before she embarked on the next stage in life.

• Thailand murder update: British man is believed to have been questioned by Thai Police

• Update: UEA flag to be lowered in memory of Thailand murder victim Hannah Witheridge of Hemsby

A candle lit at Norwich cathedral for Hannah Witheridge. Picture: Supplied

A candle lit at Norwich cathedral for Hannah Witheridge. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

• 'So bright and beautiful' - tributes to Thai murder victim Hannah Witheridge

• Update: Great Yarmouth woman, 23, murdered on Thai beach named as police search for British suspect

Believed to be travelling with three other friends, she would have been brimming with tales of the people she met, the sights she saw and all her experiences.

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Instead she is at the centre of a global news story – the shocking brutality of her murder in paradise upsetting everyone who hears about it. The dive island of Koh Tao would have been a world away from the seaside village of Hemsby in Norfolk where she lived with her family.

And today the shock of her tragic death is still sinking in for residents in the quiet coastal village.

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Her name is well known throughout the resort as her family are heavily involved in the tourist industry and own holiday chalets in Hemsby, Caister, California and Scratby.

The gifted blonde student, who is believed to have attended school in Norwich, went on to complete a BA in education studies at the University of East Anglia, graduating in 2012.

She had strong links in Norwich as she also worked for several months at Archant's head office in Rouen Road. The 23-year-old worked as a sales administrator and helped run wedding shows across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Colleagues described her as 'funny, witty and pleasant' and said she was a key member of a small team.

Diana Sims, general manager, added: 'She had great organisational skills, she just got on with everybody in the short time she was here. We just cannot comprehend that something like this would happen.'

Mrs Sims said her pleasant, calm manner chimed perfectly with the often stressful work and the team had been left in 'unbelievable and total shock' following her sudden death.

Hannah left her post at Archant to study for an MA in speech therapy at the University of Essex, which she began last year.

As well as being a gifted academic she was also a talented horsewoman, winning rosettes in local competitions alongside her sister Laura.

She was also a talented performer and studied with Great Yarmouth singing teacher Mary Hardy-Green, and was awarded a distinction in the grade eight London College musical theatre examinations in 2009.

Yesterday as news of her shocking murder broke, national media flitted around the quiet village where she and her family are so well known, while the peaceful road where her family home stands was sombre in mood.

Keith Kyriacou, vice chairman of Hemsby parish council, said he knew the family well and he and other councillors were thinking of them all at such a difficult time.

'It's a very sad time. If there's anything the parish council can do we're there for them and we send our condolences,' he added.

? Would you like to pay tribute to Hannah? Email lucy.clapham@archant.co.uk

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