'Kind and caring soulmate' Simon couldn't cope with Covid restrictions

Simon Gibbs was reported missing from his home in Layham in September, 2020

Simon Gibbs was reported missing from his home in Layham in September, 2020 - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

The widow of a "kind and caring" Co-op worker says her husband took his own life because he couldn't cope with the social restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

Simon Gibbs lived in Layham and worked at the East of England Co-op's Wherstead Park centre, until he was reported missing on Wednesday, September 2, 2020.

Early the next morning, on Thursday, September 3, police were called by dog walkers to the Nacton shoreline under the Orwell Bridge where a body was found, later to be identified as the 49-year-old.

An inquest into his death was held today, Wednesday, May 19, at Suffolk Coroners' Court.

In a statement, his wife Gillian Gibbs described her husband as "kind, caring, sensitive and private", someone who was at odds with a fast-changing world and always said he was "born in the wrong era".

"He enjoyed the simple pleasures of life; long walks, being outdoors and cycling," she said.

"We each felt we had found our soulmate in life and would often be found hand in hand on a picnic at the seaside, enjoyed long walks through our marriage and our walking boots were the most worn shoes we owned.

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"He had a passion for live music, American car shows and we would spend most evenings on the sofa enjoying a film or TV show together.

"I believe if it were not for the Covid pandemic, Simon would be with us today. He was my best friend, my soulmate and will always live in my heart."

The court heard how Mr Gibbs had struggled with anxiety since his diagnosis in 1988, and that his mental health was exacerbated when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

According to Mrs Gibbs, he had been scared to go into work after restrictions were enforced, struggled with the rules on face coverings and said he just wanted to stay at home.

A body was found under the Orwell Bridge on the Nacton shoreline the day after Mr Gibbs went missing

A body was found under the Orwell Bridge on the Nacton shoreline the day after Mr Gibbs went missing - Credit: Paul Cant

Area coroner for Suffolk Nigel Parsley concluded that Mr Gibbs died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall from the Orwell Bridge.

He added: "Simon really did struggle with the conditions imposed on society in the Covid pandemic."

If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 113 123. Both services are available 24 hours 7 days a week.  You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple & Android.

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