University of Essex plan award in memory of Hannah Witheridge

Hannah Witheridge. Photo: Submitted/Archant

Hannah Witheridge. Photo: Submitted/Archant - Credit: Archant

A new award is set to created in memory of University of Essex student Hannah Witheridge – as two men were convicted of her murder.

Myanmar migrants Win Zaw Htun, right, and Zaw Lin, left, both 22, escorted by officials after their

Myanmar migrants Win Zaw Htun, right, and Zaw Lin, left, both 22, escorted by officials after their guilty verdict at court in Koh Samui, Thailand. Photo: AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn - Credit: AP

Thai judges returned guilty verdicts for two Burmese migrants Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, on Christmas Eve, and sentenced them to the death penalty.

The body of Miss Witheridge, 23, along with fellow backpacker David Miller, 24, was found on a beach in Koh Tao, Thailand, on September 15 last year.

The defendants had faced charges of murder, rape and theft, while the trial was mired in allegations of poor police investigative work.

Miss Witheridge was doing a Master’s degree in speech and language therapy at Essex University and lived in Colchester at the time of her death.

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Now their are plans for the university to introduce the Hannah Witheridge Award for Clinical Excellence for students who demonstrate outstanding work on placements, with Miss Witheridge as the first recipient.

In a statement Miss Witheridge’s family said: “Had her life not been tragically and unnecessarily cut short, she would now have completed her Master’s degree and be about to embark on a fulfilling and worthwhile career. She would have gone on to make a significant difference to the lives of many.

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“On the basis of Hannah’s dedication and passion and the excellent feedback she received during her placements, the University of Essex has introduced an award in her memory.

“As a family, we are touched by this beautiful tribute to Hannah as the hard-working, dedicated young woman that she was.

“As the trial concludes our family again find ourselves in the path of a whirlwind of emotions and difficulties. In these challenging times, we try to concentrate our efforts on remembering our beautiful Hannah for the fun, vibrant and incredible young woman that she was.

“The past year has served as an unimaginably impossible time. We found the trial process extremely difficult and our trips to Thailand made for particularly distressing experiences. We found listening to proceedings very challenging and have had to endure a lot of painful and confusing information.

“We now need time to digest the outcome of the trial and figure out the most appropriate way to tell our story.”

Miss Witheridge’s university personal tutor Teresa Eade and course leader Dr Wayne Wilson said: “Hannah remains deeply missed by everyone who knew her. She was a talented student who was going to make a real difference to so many people through her chosen career. Hannah and her family remain in all our thoughts.”

The defence team has already said it plans to appeal the verdict.

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