Norfolk coroner prepares to bid farewell

Retiring Senior Coroner for Norfolk William Armstrong with his wife Monica and daughters Amy, left a

Retiring Senior Coroner for Norfolk William Armstrong with his wife Monica and daughters Amy, left and Lucy at the evening reception Birbeck Hall. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk's senior coroner welcomed friends to a farewell reception last night as he prepares to stand down from the role.

William Armstrong will hand over responsibility for inquests in the county at the end of the month, after 18 years in the job.

Last night he was joined by his wife Monica and daughters Amy and Lucy, along with friends and colleagues, for a drinks reception at the Great Hospital in Norwich.

Mr Armstrong, 67, said the event was a chance to show his gratitude to those who had helped him during his time as coroner.

'It's a chance to say both goodbye and thank you to the people who have supported me over the past 18 years,' he said.

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'It has been an enormous privilege to have been in this position and I hope that I have been able to enhance the effectiveness of the coroner's service, and extend the traditional role of the coroner.'

Mr Armstrong said the position had changed during his time, and that he had tried to broaden the remit of the coroner to take a more active role in the community.

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He said: 'Part of the role is reaching out to bereaved families and providing a coroner's service which is sympathetic, sensitive and compassionate.

'But it is also about investigating deaths and ensuring that lessons are learnt for others.'

Mr Armstrong has been involved in conducting inquests since 1986 and, since becoming a full coroner 18 years ago, has instigated a number of pioneering initiatives in Norfolk, including establishing an inquest support service and appointing the country's first coroner's chaplain.

He has also overseen the move to a purpose-designed court at Eastgate House on Thorpe Road in Norwich, all with the intention of putting the families of the bereaved first.

A solicitor and law graduate, Mr Armstrong also has a masters degree in medical law and a postgraduate diploma in mental health law.

He will continue to sit as a mental health tribunal judge and a legal assessor to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, and has been named the new chairman of Healthwatch Norfolk, an organisation designed to ensure that Norfolk's health and social care meets the county's needs and priorities.

Mr Armstrong will be succeeded as Norfolk's senior coroner by Jacqueline Lake, currently the county's deputy coroner.

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