Family grief after Felixstowe death

A FAMILY who took in a former vagrant for nearly 20 years as part of their family have today told of their grief after he was found dead on Felixstowe beach.

A FAMILY who took in a former vagrant for nearly 20 years as part of their family have today told of their grief after he was found dead on Felixstowe beach.

Joe Frost, of Stuart Close, Felixstowe, was found dead at the bottom of the Brackenbury Cliffs, on the beach, on Thursday morning.

Today his family have spoken of their shock at his unexplained death.

Mr Frost had lived with carers Val and Ron Simons and their family for almost 20 years and despite not being a blood relative was "one of the family".

Mrs Simons, 58, said: "Joe was a very quiet man who spent most of his time alone and hated to go out.

"He didn't even like wearing shoes and when he first lived with us use to wear one shoe, and one slipper – that was just his way.

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"He was happy to stay in and watch television. A bit of a lonely old man really.

"We don't know what made him leave the house on Thursday. It's a complete shock.

"We'd been to a funeral that day and when we came in the light and television were left on.

"We didn't usually like to leave him alone but he said he was fine with it and we told him we would be back at tea-time.

"We called the police and when they came to the door and told us a body had been found matching Joe's description it was such a shock."

Mr and Mrs Simons first met Mr Frost, a chronic schizophrenic, when they owned a home for the elderly in Garrison Lane.

When the couple gave up the home Mr Frost did not want live with anyone else and stayed with them and their four children – Mark, 34, Michelle, 32, Malcolm 31, and Zara, 26, - as part of the family.

They are now also fostering a 13-year-old boy, Curtis.

Mrs Simons said: "He was brought to us by social services after being found unconscious and suffering from hypothermia.

"He was 58 then and classed as a vagrant - we knew absolutely nothing about him.

"When the time came for him to move on he was already like part of the family to us, like a grandfather to our children, and we didn't want to let him go.

"He came to us with nothing, and that's how he left us."

The Simons family only recently discovered Mr Frosts' roots when they obtained a copy of his birth certificate from the internet.

It revealed he was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire. They then found out he had been in a mental hospital in St Albans but had discharged himself.

Mr Simons, 65, said: "We had looked after him for 20 years and are both nurses so we would have spotted if he had been acting differently.

"There was no reason for us to be worried or we would have never had left him. It was so out of character."

Mr Frost, who spent time at a respite home in Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich, was due to celebrate his birthday on Thursday.

His death is being treated as unexplained. Police do not believe he fell from the cliffs.

A post mortem is due to be carried out on Monday.

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