Football match memorial to tragic pair

BRAVE Gary Coombs has taken part in a football match in memory of his wife and daughter who died on the same stretch of railway line within weeks of each other.

Annie Davidson

BRAVE Gary Coombs has taken part in a football match in memory of his wife and daughter who died on the same stretch of railway line within weeks of each other.

The Joanne and Natasha Coombs Memorial Match was held on Saturday to honour the pair whose tragic deaths shocked the community of Harwich in the summer of 2007.

Natasha, 17, was last seen alive on July 27 when she disappeared after returning from Ipswich to Manningtree after a night out with friends.


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The body of the former East Bergholt High School pupil was found two weeks later down an embankment next to the railway line just outside Manningtree station.

Her heartbroken mother Joanne, 40, took her own life on the same stretch of track on September 18 unable to cope without her daughter.

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Natasha was the only surviving child of Mr and Mrs Coombs, of Fronks Road, Dovercourt, after their other daughter was stillborn many years earlier.

The memorial match first took place last year and raised thousands of pounds for St Helena Hospice.

Organiser Sharon Martin said around 300 people had attended the event at the Little Oakley Memorial Club.

She said: "It was very successful last year and we wanted to do it again with Gary's permission.

"It is the Harwich Eleven against the Brantham Eleven and the Harwich team was made up of Gary, Jo's brothers and Gary's brother and some nephews and friends.

"The Brantham side was mainly all friends of Natasha's from East Bergholt High School.

"Gary played for the first 15 minutes and scored the first goal of the game which was very good.

"He came back on for the last ten minutes."

A raffle was later held in the clubhouse and raised around �1,800 which will be divided between East Anglia's Children's Hospices and the restoration fund for St Nicholas Church in Harwich where Mr and Mrs Coombs married and Natasha and her mother's funerals were held.

Mrs Martin, of Brooklands Road, Brantham, whose daughter Bethany was a close friend of Natasha's said she hoped the match would continue as an annual fundraiser but she would consult with Mr Coombs first.

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