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Police hero and Stars of Suffolk winner dies at Ipswich Hospital after contracting coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 16:08 29 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:08 29 March 2020

John Hood pictured in 2016 when, as a PCSO, he rescued four teenage girls from the sea at Felixstowe. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

John Hood pictured in 2016 when, as a PCSO, he rescued four teenage girls from the sea at Felixstowe. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

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Tributes have been paid to former police hero and Stars of Suffolk winner John Hood, who has died in Ipswich Hospital after contracting coronavirus.

John Hood won the Police Hero award at the Stars of Suffolk awards in 2016  Picture: Sarah Lucy BrownJohn Hood won the Police Hero award at the Stars of Suffolk awards in 2016 Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

John, from Felixstowe, was described as a “kind, generous and courageous man” by his partner, Nita Crossley, who he lived with.

The 66-year-old developed symptoms of Covid-19 more than a week before his admission to Ipswich Hospital on March 20.

He immediately went into self-isolation and fought the illness until his condition worsened and he sought medical help. He died on Tuesday, March 24. He had underlying health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

MORE: Get the latest Suffolk coronavirus updates in our Facebook group

John receiving his award at the Stars of Suffolk Awards ceremony with then Chairman of Suffolk County Council, Colin Spence with wife, Jeanette.John receiving his award at the Stars of Suffolk Awards ceremony with then Chairman of Suffolk County Council, Colin Spence with wife, Jeanette.

Nita, who is in self-isolation, said John’s death had come as an enormous shock.

“John was a kind, generous and courageous man,” she said. “He lived life to the full and he will be hugely missed.”

Originally from, Dunedin, New Zealand, John came to the UK in 2004 with his then partner, Jayne Lindill, who was returning to her native Suffolk.

John had worked as a radio presenter in New Zealand and Australia, but when he came to Suffolk he seized the opportunity to take on a new career as a PCSO with Suffolk Constabulary, serving between 2007 and 2018. Friends say it was a job he loved – and it was a role which earned him recognition.

PCSO John Hood outside Cliff Lane School, Ipswich, in an operation to stop  dangerous parking.  Picture: ARCHANTPCSO John Hood outside Cliff Lane School, Ipswich, in an operation to stop dangerous parking. Picture: ARCHANT

In 2016, John won a Stars of Suffolk award for diving into the sea off Felixstowe beach to rescue four girls. Despite having a pacemaker to correct a slow heartbeat, he swam 250m to the aid of the girls who were in danger of drifting out to sea in a rubber dinghy.

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He told this newspaper at the time: “I could have stayed on the beach and called the Coastguard, but I know I am a strong swimmer, I know the water, and I made a decision to go in.”

John was involved in local amateur theatre as a talented director and actor, in productions in the New Wolsey Theatre Open Season and at the Sir John Mills Theatre in Ipswich. He also loved the outdoors and in his earlier life in Australia had been a keen triathlete.

John Hood, who has died after contracting coronavirus  Picture: Supplied by familyJohn Hood, who has died after contracting coronavirus Picture: Supplied by family

Jayne, editor of Suffolk Magazine, said that although she and John were no longer partners they had been the closest of friends for 23 years.

“John had a big heart and made an impression on everyone he met. His great passions were rugby, his native New Zealand, music and theatre. He also loved Suffolk as his adopted home and was looking forward to enjoying more of it with Nita.”

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She added they were thankful to all the NHS staff for the help they gave John – and urged people to listen to Government advice to stop the spread of the virus.

“We’re very grateful to the paramedics and the staff at Ipswich Hospital for the care they gave John while he was battling this terrible virus,” said Jayne. “They’re doing an incredibly difficult job and no praise is too great for them. Our hearts go out to other people who have lost loved ones and we urge people to do everything they can to stay safe.”

John’s death is the first reported at Ipswich Hospital.

There have been two others confirmed in Suffolk so far.

Pat Bewley, from Stowupland, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, died at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds last week. Moving tributes have been paid by his family.

And “lovely, vibrant” grandmother Jane Jay, 75, from Ixworth, also died at the same hospital.


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