Loner was found dead by neighbour

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a 94-year-old man who regaled friends with stories from the war and was described as a “remarkable man” by a coroner.

William Beresford died at his home in Coopers Hill in Willingdon in July last year.

He had refused to see a doctor and told friends he didn’t want to go into hospital because he feared he wouldn’t return home again.

His friend Barry Anderson said the 94-year-old widower had a fear of hospitals and didn’t want to become what he called “part of the system”.

Mr Anderson, of Kings Drive, found his friend dead in his bed during one of his weekly visits to check on him.

The retired electrical engineer had lost several stone in weight in recent months and at the time of his death was severely malnourished and his body emaciated.

His doctor, Dr Alistair Hammett from Downland Medical Centre in Polegate, said Mr Beresford had been losing weight since his wife Lillian had died from Alzheimer’s.

At an inquest, friends told how he was fiercely independent and despite them bringing in food for him, he ate very little.

Pathologist Dr Jane Mercer, who carried out a post-mortem, said Mr Beresford weighed under five stone and said his cause of death was self-neglect.

The inquest also heard that although he was virtually a recluse, Mr Beresford would often speak to friend and neighbour Judy Holland.

She said he kept an immaculate house and she would often spend hours chatting to him about his life.

“He was a wonderful person and I had never met and never will meet anyone like him again,” said Mrs Holland.

The inquest was told by Mr Anderson that in the weeks leading up to Mr Beresford’s death he had visited him and found the elderly man with cuts to his face and bruising.

“He told me he had a fall and I tried to get him to see a doctor but he very defiantly refused,” said Mr Anderson.

Recording a verdict of death by self-neglect, East Sussex coroner Alan Craze said, “It is wonderful that he managed to stay in his own home until the age of 94 and it sounds from what I have heard that he really was a remarkable man.”