Family tributes to woman who drowned

RELATIVES of a woman found dead in an Ipswich river today spoke of their grief, while revealing they don't know why she had been walking in the area where she was discovered.

RELATIVES of a woman found dead in an Ipswich river today spoke of their grief, while revealing they don't know why she had been walking in the area where she was discovered.

The body of 63-year-old Lillian Hannaford was found in the River Gipping on November 28 by two anglers who had gone to the Riverside Road stretch of the river to fish.

The men - Christopher Johnson and cousin Steven Thurkettle, both 22, alerted police who cordoned off the area to investigate the circumstances of Mrs Hannaford's death.

Today, as her family grieve, grandson Andrew Ellis remembered the loving, caring and friendly woman who was always there for him.

Mr Ellis, 20, said: “Nana always looked out for her family - if I needed a favour or needed to borrow some money, she would always try to help as much as she could.

“She was a loving and caring mother and grandmother who will be greatly missed by her family.

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“We were close because she was the only gran I had.”

Mrs Hannaford, who originated from north London, worked for Coes in Norwich Road until this time last year. She had lived at Wingate House care home, in Bramford Road, since early this year after having a fall at her previous address in Reading Road.

Before that, she had lived in the south of Spain for a short time with her husband, Peter, but she became homesick and returned to Suffolk alone, although the couple remained married.

Mr Ellis' mother, Dawn Howard, who lives in Clacton, came to Ipswich after Mrs Hannaford was found to deliver the news to her son, his brother Daniel Ellis, and Mrs Hannaford's two other grandchildren, Curtis and Louise Holland.

Mrs Hannaford's other daughter, Angie Howard, is also coming to terms with her loss.

Her funeral was held on Monday .

Mr Ellis, of Cowslip Close, Ipswich, said: “When mum asked if she could come to see me, I thought it was a bit strange and I instantly knew something was up.

“The whole family have been shaken by this. Everyone is very tearful.

“It's happened so close to Christmas too and I was supposed to spend Christmas with nana this year.”

He said: “None of us know why she was down there. As far as I'm aware, the only time she ever left the home was to do her shopping.

“She had no family around that end of town so why she went down there is a bit of a puzzle.”

Andrew Ellis today issued a message of thanks to the two men who made the grim discovery of his grandmother's body.

Cousins Christopher Johnson and Steven Thurkettle found Mrs Hannaford's body around noon on November 29 as they went to fish at the River Gipping.

After finding out who had discovered his grandmother, Mr Ellis contacted police who put him in touch with Mr Johnson and Mr Thurkettle.

Mr Ellis said: “I contacted police because I wanted to thank the men personally.

“I spoke to them on the phone and then we arranged to meet. I asked them how they made the discovery and they told me they had seen her walking stick on the river bank and then they saw a blue jacket in the water.

“I just want to say a big thank you to them. It must have been a shocking discovery.”

A spokesman for Wingate House, where Mrs Hannaford lived, said the tenants and staff were very saddened to hear of her death.

He said: “She was a lovely woman who got on well with people here, although she had not been with us for very long.

“Everyone is very upset.”

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