Family's grief for Karen

KAREN Fryer's mother today recalled how she told her she loved her in their final conversation just hours before she died.Miss Fryer's body was found at 6.10am on Sunday

KAREN Fryer's mother today recalled how she told her she loved her in their final conversation just hours before she died.

Miss Fryer's body was found at 6.10am on Sunday on the railway line at Broomheath, Woodbridge, after it is believed she leapt from the bridge above.

The former Grundisburgh Primary and Farlingaye High School pupil's death ended a long, brave struggle with paranoid schizophrenia.

Paying tribute to her 34-year-old daughter, Jean Fryer, 61, of Woodbridge Road, Debach, said she had spoken to her six hours earlier as she tried to help Karen from being consumed by her demons.

She said: “I was just saying the things I would normally say when she was in a black mood. I tried to get her to snuggle down and think of nice things.

“She was not listening to me. We were going round and round in circles and in the end I had to say 'I'm going to sleep, snuggle down and I will phone you in the morning. Night, night. Love you lots'.

Most Read

“I spoke to her every day, several times a day.

“Just lately Karen's illness got in the way of all sorts of things she wanted to do and at 34 I think she thought she was running out of time.

“Karen was just very special and not just because she was my daughter. She was very courageous. Lot's of people I have spoken to said they can't believe it.

“People are so fond of her. I don't think she realised just how people loved her. She didn't have a very high opinion of herself at all.

“I don't think she could imagine that people actually cared about her.

“She would hear what she wanted to hear and she would believe what she wanted to believe about herself. She didn't have a lot of self esteem.

“She was a lovely girl and so many people loved her. She helped so many people.

“I keep expecting her to walk in cracking a joke. Karen had a keen sense of humour. She was very clever and was a very caring girl, kind and extremely generous.”

Mrs Fryer said Karen, of Orwell Court, Woodbridge, adored cats, particularly Beth, the one she owned at the time of her death.

Beth provided a great source of comfort to Karen as she fought her illness.

Mrs Fryer said: “Beth was very important to Karen. Beth kept her going. She loved that cat.”

British Transport police have confirmed Karen's death is not being treated as suspicious.

Officers discovered her abandoned red car parked on the bridge over the railway line at Broomheath, off Sandy Lane, Woodbridge.

They cordoned off the road for around six hours on Sunday.

The bridge is a popular route for people walking through the Broomheath housing estate and down to Kyson Point on the River Deben.

ALTHOUGH Karen Fryer's struggle with paranoid schizophrenia destroyed her life, her family believed her struggles began at an early age.

They recall her being a bit of a tomboy during her childhood, fondly remembering her playing with the boys when she went tobogganing using a bin liner.

When she left Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge, Karen went to Suffolk College.

Gifted with her hands, she took up furniture design for two years and her mother still has a hall table and beautiful grandfather clock Karen made.

After joining the Territorial Army for a year, Karen, a former Deben and Ipswich Swimming Club member, then joined the Royal Navy.

She did her training at Torpoint in Devon, before being posted on HMS Manchester, where she was one of the first wrens to serve on ships.

While in the service she carried on swimming competitively which she had done since the age of six. At one stage Karen was ranked the number two swimmer at butterfly in the navy, before leaving the service aged 22.

Her mother Jean said: “She got a medical discharge and that was the start of her schizophrenia.”

Karen when back to Suffolk College to do a year-long access course before going on to the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield to study architectural modelling.

However, she did not manage to finish the course and returned to Suffolk as her illness took hold.

Karen's father, Peter, 63, said: “It was during that course that her problems really came on.

“She had been self-harming from when she was 16 or 17 in a small way. It was really when she was 24 or 25 that she really starting cutting herself.”

The family desperately tried to find a way to give Karen the help and support she needed for her illness.

Frustration and despair were part of all their everyday lives.

Mr Fryer said: “It's very hard to explain until you go through it. You couldn't get through to her. Part of her illness meant she would hear voices.

“You can have remission periods for six months and then something would happen which someone else would say 'that's life' if you like.”

Asked what she will remember most about Karen, her sister, Sarah, 36, said: “It was her smile and her laugh when she was on form. That's what I will try and remember.

“There's a huge, gaping hole. She fought her illness for so long. Mental health is one of those you don't easily brush under the carpet. She battled and she battled. It was quite a rollercoaster, because Karen's has been through black moods before and come out of them.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter