‘So bright and beautiful’ - tributes to Thai murder victim Hannah Witheridge

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

The sudden death of a young Norfolk woman murdered while holidaying on a tropical island has prompted heartache and 'total shock'.

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

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

Bright and popular Hannah Witheridge, 23, was found dead on the picturesque island of Koh Tao in Thailand yesterday morning.

She was killed alongside fellow holidaymaker David Miller, 24, from Jersey in the Channel Islands, hours after attending a party on the small island known for its laid back atmosphere and scuba diving.

Yesterday - still reeling from the news, people who knew Miss Witheridge paid tribute to a 'funny' and 'pleasant' young woman who was involved in local horse riding, had worked hard at school before going on to study at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and had grown up in the close-knit coastal village of Hemsby where her family own holiday chalets.

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George Jermany, a Great Yarmouth borough councillor who has known the Witheridge family for many years and also runs rentals in Hemsby, said: 'Our hearts are breaking for them.

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'I know everybody's thoughts will be with them at this terrible time.

'The family has been in Hemsby for years and I knew her grandad well. Everyone knows the Witheridges. What's happened is just awful.'

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Believed to be a former Langley School student, Miss Witheridge gained a BA in education studies at the UEA before landing a job with Archant in Norwich and later moving to Colchester to study speech therapy at the University of Essex.

Colleagues at Archant where Miss Witherirdge worked as a sales administrator for eight months spoke of their 'unbelievable and total shock'.

General manager Diana Sims said she was a key member of a small team, who was 'so bright, beautiful, funny, witty and pleasant' to have around.

She left the post just over a year ago after being offered the opportunity study for an MA at the University of Essex.

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is in contact with Miss Witheridge's family and a consul from Bangkok is travelling to Koh Tao.

An FCO spokesman said: 'The Embassy is urgently seeking information from the local authorities. Consular staff stand ready to provide assistance to friends and family at this sad time.'

According to local reports, Miss Witheridge had travelled to Koh Tao with three friends and had been at a beach party.

She and Mr Miller were found in the early hours of yesterday, and both had suffered serious head wounds.

Thai police chief Major General Kiattipong Khawsamang said officers were checking CCTV footage from nearby restaurants and hotels to piece together what had happened.

'They went out to a bar and left together after 1am, according to CCTV footage,' said Maj Gen Khawsamang. 'We have talked to different witnesses who might lead us to some clues.'

It was last night reported that police on the island, which is accessible only by boat and is visited by hundreds of backpackers each year, were searching for a British suspect, believed to have been friends with Mr Miller.

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