Diver’s body washed up on beach

Body washed up  on the beach near Hastings lifeboat station. 2/8/12
Body washed up on the beach near Hastings lifeboat station. 2/8/12

THE body of a DGH doctor who disappeared while diving off the Eastbourne coast is believed to have washed up in Hastings.

Judy Beard, also known as Judy Belcher, fell overboard on July 11 and after an initial search proved unsuccessful was declared missing, presumed dead.

Her family paid tribute to her and colleagues at the DGH and its sister site in Hastings were quick to praise the work of the consultant haematologist who specialised in cancer treatment.

At around 9am yesterday (Thursday), the wetsuited body of a female diver matching her description was discovered by fishermen on Hastings seafront.

Her husband Nicholas Belcher has been informed and an inquest into her death will be held in the coming months.

At the time of her disappearance, a host of former patients flooded the Herald website with heartfelt tributes to Dr Beard, thanking her for the excellent treatment she had provided, including one reader who wrote, “I was a patient of Dr Beard and have been since 2007. She has been such an inspiration to me and helped both myself and my family through what was a devastating time. She was always smiling through every appointment – she was my rock.”

And members of the Hastings Sub Aqua club, of which she was an active member, were left reeling from the shock news. Dr Beard was also heavily involved with St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards.

A spokesman for Sussex Police yesterday confirmed, “Police went to the beach at the west side of the harbour arm at Hastings, after a body had been found. It is that of an adult woman, wearing diving clothing and equipment, and it had evidently been washed ashore by the tide.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious and while formal identification has not yet taken place, we believe we know her identity.”