Popular Norfolk pensioner may have been distressed at deaths of friends

A popular Norfolk pensioner may have been in a distressed state prior to his death because he had lost a number of close friends, an inquest heard.

The sisters of Diss man Derek Alden, 70, told yesterday's hearing at Norwich Coroner's Court the retired cleaner, who was a familiar face around the town, enjoyed socialising with his friends in the Market Place.

However, his sister Linda Mitchel, who attended the hearing with her sibling Maureen, said: 'He has gradually lost a lot of his friends, including one of his best friends, which he was very upset about, that I know.'

The body of asthma sufferer Mr Alden, who lived in Skelton Road, was found by PC Ian Rutherford lying close to the shore in a virtually inaccessible section of Diss Mere on April 24.

PC Rutherford said he noticed a bag floating on the surface, which Mr Alden always carried, and called two extra PCSOs to help him get through marshes and bushes to the remote spot.


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The inquest heard a note was found at Mr Alden's home, suggesting he was distressed by his asthma, but Norfolk coroner William Armstrong and the sisters cast doubt on whether this was the reason.

Mr Armstrong said he had suffered from asthma since 1954, while Mrs Mitchel said she did not think the asthma was 'a big enough issue' and the deaths of his close friends were more likely to have been a bigger factor.

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She added: 'He looked after himself and fed himself well. He was used to going down the town quite early to meet up with his friends. They would meet up at the Market Place and put the world to rights. He would see the people he knew, but everyone in the street knew Derek.'

His neighbours Dulcie and David Saunders raised the alarm because they had not heard from their friend who they had known for more than 20 years.

In a statement, the couple said Mr Alden would often tell them when he was going out and on some occasions left them a key to his bungalow in case he needed medical help, but on this occasion Mr Saunders had not heard from him and found the note on the kitchen table.

Mr Armstrong recorded a verdict of suicide while in a distressed state of mind, adding: 'It is important to remember him in a positive way. There are a lot of people who miss him having a mardle with everybody.'

dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk

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