Tributes paid to animal loving Ormesby woman

AN animal lover’s passion is to carry on after her death, thanks to a charity that is being set up by her husband in her memory.

Mel Kirkpatrick, from Ormesby, died suddenly in her sleep on March 23, aged 47, despite efforts by husband Peter to revive her.

She was active in the community and worked alongside her husband setting up the Rural North Tenants Association six years ago – a mediation service for people living in council properties.

But it was her love of animals that has inspired Mr Kirkpatrick, 56, to set up a charity in her memory with donations in lieu of flowers at her funeral on Friday, April 8.

He said he wanted a lasting tribute to his bubbly wife who loved pottering in the greenhouse, her cats and dogs Poppy and Mercy, and would cheerfully give anyone the last penny in her pocket.

Mr Kirkpatrick, who is involved in tenants’ forums locally and nationally, said he would never have been able to have made the progress he has without the support of Mel, who suffered from a host of health problems including diabetes, arthritis and an enlarged liver.

Mrs Kirkpatrick died the day before the 22nd anniversary of their meeting through a relationship bureau. “We never hid how we met, we were quite proud of it,” Mr Kirkpatrick said. “We hit if off straight away and within a few months we were living together.

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“The day before she died we had had this beautiful day sitting out in the garden and talking about how the dogs were playing.

“We sat out there until the sun went down.”

He said the couple had been very proud of what they achieved with the tenants association, which operated on a shoestring budget but had recently received larger grants for equipment and a mobile office.

“When you lose someone you have been tied up with for such a long time it’s really hard,” Mr Kirkpatrick said. “Most people work and are with each other only for a few hours a day but we were together all the time so it was more like a 50-year marriage.

“We spent pretty much every hour together. We were joined at the hip.”

He described his wife as a no-nonsense go-getter who could speak volumes with a single glare but would do anything for anyone.

In a typical act of selflessness she distributed large flasks filled with hot water she had boiled on a camping stove to old folk living nearby during a prolonged power cut in Ormesby so they could have a hot cup of tea.

Before arthritis set in she had worked as a chef in both Pontin’s, Hemsby, and the Pier Hotel in Gorleston.

Mr Kirkpatrick is awaiting test results to pinpoint the cause of death. A post-mortem examination was inconclusive.