Family to scatter ashes on a skydive

CELIA WIGG Colleagues and friends of a mental health nurse who died unexpectedly from a cerebral haemorrhage are set to take to the skies to scatter his ashes above the Norfolk countryside.

CELIA WIGG

Colleagues and friends of a mental health nurse who died unexpectedly from a cerebral haemorrhage are set to take to the skies to scatter his ashes above the Norfolk countryside.

Senior charge nurse Phil Canning, 52, died last month days short of his first wedding anniversary. His funeral was attended by more than 350 people, including many he met during his 33-year career in mental health.

He lived with his wife Jane, in Garboldisham, near Diss. He had three children - Greg, Tom and Jessica - and was stepfather to Phil and Andrew.

Mrs Canning said: “I always knew Phil to be a wonderful, caring man and husband. I hope that he will always be remembered for his professionalism, compassion and humanity as well as his love of life and that wonderful, infectious smile.”

Tom, 21, added: “Although I'd never admit it when my dad was alive, he is exactly how I want to be. He used to try really hard to make Greg and Jess and me take care of ourselves, by persuading us to get jobs and not giving us too much money, but it never worked, because we all knew he would always be there to bail us out if we needed.

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“I have been able to do a lot with my life so far, because I knew if anything went wrong, he'd be able to sort it out. My version of Phil Canning was a protective and loving dad. I am so proud of him for the person he was.”

Best friend, charge nurse Spencer Hardy-King, who worked with Mr Canning at Hellesdon Hospital for Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, said: “Phil employed a unique style of management.

“People worked for him and respected him because he was nice. More than this he demonstrated true empathy and a genuine interest for patients and staff.”

Mr Canning developed a love for skydiving after his colleagues had a whip-round to pay for his first jump as a 50th birthday present, completing about 70 skydives during the last two years.

Mr Hardy-King and another colleague, Laura Barrett, did the first jump with him, and they will be part of the 25-strong tandem team who are set to scatter his ashes over Old Buckenham on October 25, together with Mr Canning's wife and children.

“He would have been very happy to know that. In fact, we talked about getting old and ashes being thrown out of a plane. He said that he would always want to be skydiving,” added Mr Hardy-King.

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