Family's grief for killed electrician

A LOVING family today spoke of their immense grief over the tragic death of their "hero" - Ipswich electrician John Pennell.At 54, Mr Pennell was fighting fit and as much the joker he had always been but on Monday he kissed his wife Lil and left for work and did not come home.

A LOVING family today spoke of their immense grief over the tragic death of their "hero" - Ipswich electrician John Pennell.

At 54, Mr Pennell was fighting fit and as much the joker he had always been but on Monday he kissed his wife Lil and left for work and did not come home.

The experienced tradesman died while carrying out electrical work in a business unit in Claydon Business Park, Gipping Road, Great Blakenham.

His body was found at about 6pm and the Health and Safety Executive has launched an investigation into how he died.

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Today his grief-stricken family described Mr Pennell, of Ashcroft Road, as an "amazing" husband, father, grandfather and friend.

Mrs Pennell, his wife of 34 years, said: "My husband was the type of bloke if anyone wanted anything done he would go to help them.

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"We were just like soul mates, he was the light of my life.

"That morning he brought me a cup of tea, he lay down on the bed and gave me a kiss. Then he went to work."

And the Pennell family cannot understand what happened to result in Mr Pennell's death.

They say he was an expert electrician, with experience in all areas of the job, including high-voltage work, and a man who took pride in his work being thorough and precise.

"He was a perfectionist," Mrs Pennell said.

"He did a health and safety course only six months ago so he was well up on health and safety."

Mr Pennell's son-in-law Alan Squirrell added: "He'd never take chances, he was never that type. It was either done by the book or not at all."

Mr Pennell's death has left his family and his many friends in a state of shock.

A lifelong football fan, Mr Pennell was a former Ipswich Town Football Club season ticket holder and, in his earlier days, had a reputation as a talented footballer himself.

He played for Thurleston, Christy's and Hadleigh at different times and was close friends with former Town player Johnny Miller.

Born in 1950, Mr Pennell spent almost all his life in the Castle Hill area and attended Thurleston High School before starting work as an electrician at 15.

He had two daughters, Mandy and Lynsey, and one grandson, who he doted on, called Jensen, who will be three on Monday .

"He loved his girls but he just loved Jensen to bits," Mrs Pennell said.

Mandy added: "He wasn't just my dad, he was everything to me."

Mr Pennell had a reputation as a loveable prankster, someone who could not help himself from making a joke or playing a prank on someone.

His sister-in-law Christine Jones, who was married to Mr Pennell's best mate Glyn, said: "He was a complete wind-up merchant all the time."

"He had a wicked sense of humour."

For the past six months Mr Pennell had been an employee of communication consultants Ceetech, which is based at the Claydon Business Park just yards from the business unit where he died.

Between1973 and 1982 Mr Pennell worked as an electrician at the Blue Circle concrete works at Great Blakenham before going to work at Ipswich dock, where he stayed until 1996.

He also worked for several electrical firms in Ipswich and since his death the Pennell family has been inundated with messages of condolence and tributes from friends.

"Some of the guys down the docks went out for a drink on Wednesday night, they're just gutted," Mrs Pennell said.

"We just can't believe this is John we're talking about."

Tragically Mr Pennell was good friends with Felixstowe dock worker Dennis Burman who was killed when he was hit by a crane and fell 140 feet to his death in June last year.

After Mr Burman's death he paid special tribute to his friend in a letter to The Evening Star.

Now his family is left paying their own tribute to Mr Pennell.

His daughter Lynsey said: "He was more than a dad to me, he was my best friend. He was my hero.

"My parents were like a couple of love-struck teenagers still, they were totally in love with each other.

"They had the kind of marriage and partnership that most people never get.

"I don't know how we'll get through it, but we will."

Mr Pennell's last remaining ambition in life was to buy a Lexus car when he retired. Now that he will not be able to fulfil that, his family has arranged for a special floral tribute at his funeral in which the Lexus badge will feature in the centre.

Mr Pennell leaves his wife Lil, daughters Mandy and Lynsey, his parents Beryl and Eric, his sister Susan, brothers Raj and Phil and his grandson Jensen.

His funeral will be held at Ipswich Crematorium's west chapel on Friday at 11am.

Did you know John Pennell? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to

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