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Last inquest for Yarmouth coroner

PUBLISHED: 09:36 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:11 30 June 2010

GREAT Yarmouth coroner Keith Dowding held his last inquest in the borough on Wednesday, ending 35 years of helping grieving families come to terms with losing loved ones.

GREAT Yarmouth coroner Keith Dowding held his last inquest in the borough on Wednesday, ending 35 years of helping grieving families come to terms with losing loved ones.

And it signalled the end of the 516-year-old role of the Great Yarmouth Borough Coroner's Office.

Because the 65-year-old is retiring, the borough's coroner's office at the James Paget University Hospital is closing and its activities transferred to Norwich as part of a national reform.

Although inquests should still be occasionally held in Yarmouth, there will not be a dedicated coroner for the town and surrounding villages - a post enshrined by Henry V11 in a charter in 1494.

Since 1975, it is thought Mr Dowding has dealt with 250,000 deaths resulting in 750 inquests including a three day hearing into the deaths of 11 men on board a helicopter that plunged into the North Sea in July 2002.

Mr Dowding, who lives in Filby with his wife and secretary Tricia, said: “I have been honoured and privileged to have been able give families a sense of closure and to help to answer them any questions they may have about the deaths of their loved ones. It is something I have enjoyed for the last 35 years - although I won't miss being on call 365 days a year.”

Mr Dowding will retire on March 31 and he plans to spend his free time travelling, practicing yoga and playing badminton.

Because of the relocation to Norwich, Mr Dowding's two coroner's officers and former policemen Robin Adams and Stephen Turner are losing their posts. All three were keen to thank the staff at the JPH and local registrars for their support over the years and praised the role of former coroner's officer Brain Sweales who died three years ago.

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