OAP may have been dead a week

AN ELDERLY man whose body was found by police after they battered down his front door is thought to have lain undiscovered for more than a week.Joseph Girbow, 72, from Whiting Street in Bury St Edmunds, is believed to have died from natural causes but he was only found after eight days when neighbours concerned at a build up of mail and papers at the house raised the alarm.

AN ELDERLY man whose body was found by police after they battered down his front door is thought to have lain undiscovered for more than a week.

Joseph Girbow, 72, from Whiting Street in Bury St Edmunds, is believed to have died from natural causes but he was only found after eight days when neighbours concerned at a build up of mail and papers at the house raised the alarm.

Mr Girbow's death prompted calls for closer co-operation between social services and other organisations such as the post office from charities which support elderly people.

And local over 60s club organisers are now trying to promote a network to keep a look out for anything untoward to help protect the vulnerable.


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A Suffolk police spokesman said: “We were called to the address on Friday morning. After checking hospital admission records and getting no reply at the property, officers forced entry and discovered the deceased. The death is not being treated as suspicious.”

Sheila Bugg, a family friend from Brockley, near Bury, said Mr Girbow's health began to deteriorate in the last 18 months.

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She said: “He was very active until he was taken to hospital with nose bleeds and low blood pressure problems. He never seemed to recover.”

Mrs Bugg's husband had been regularly checking on Mr Girbow, whose funeral service takes place next Friday, until he too fell ill this month.

Mr Girbow, whose body was discovered last Friday, had worked at Marlows in Bury for 25 years building roof trusses until his retirement in 1997. He returned to work part time for a further three years.

Mick Easton, of Marlows, said yesterday: “He was a hard working and very amiable man. We never had a cross word.”

Ernie Broom, chairman of the Bury over 60s club, said it such incidents had prompted his group to form a welfare committee. “I went to check on a friend and found her lying in her hallway with a broken ankle. I could see the tops of her feet through the letterbox. She'd been stuck there overnight and we saved her just in time.

“Now we send cards, organise weekly visits and keep in close contact with anyone who's fallen ill or who's unexpectedly absent. Pastoral care works and this proves it, we have to look after each other.”

David Sinclair, policy manager for Help the Aged, called for greater cooperation between social services and utility agencies to share information on potentially vulnerable people.

Mr Sinclair said: “These incidents are quite rare but sadly you do hear of cases every few months. We're launching a new campaign in April called Help Unite Generations, to try and pull people together to help tackle isolation.”

A survey by the charity last year showed more than 1 million elderly people felt isolated and had little contact with family or friends.

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