Tributes paid to Eldon Harris... ‘a real character’

Eldon Harris
Eldon Harris
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A HEAVY drinker was found dead after fracturing his skull during a fall.

Belfast-born Eldon Harris was found lying face down on the corridor floor outside his home in Lonford Court in Bathford Close earlier this year. A popular local figure, Mr Harris served in the Second World War, the Gulf and the Falklands and was one of four brothers brought up in Eastbourne who all excelled during their military careers.

After leaving the forces, he joined the Merchant Navy and served as an able seaman, quartermaster and boatswain on a variety of ships, including a string of long spells on cruise boats with P&O.

He married his wife Janet – who he later divorced – and had two children after moving to Willingdon.

He later settled in Eastbourne, where he was found dead back in February.

Neighbour of five years Trevor Combes found Mr Harris’s body after returning from a karaoke session having seen him alive and well on his way out.

Mr Combes told an inquest into Mr Harris’s death, “It was so sad to think he was there for about six hours until I returned. I have had concerns that if someone had found him earlier he could be alive today.”

Police sergeant Sharon Ford, who was called in to investigate some missing money which was later recovered, said she had been told that the 84-year-old had been out drinking Champagne.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Alan Craze said, “I do not believe this was a mechanical fall – I suspect it was alcohol – but we will not know whether he tripped or fell because he had been drinking.”

A regular in a host of local bars, dozens of people attended his funeral at Eastbourne Crematorium in March.

One of them, Douglas Vernon, said that more often than not Mr Harris could often be found regailing both friends and passers-by with his tales of life in and out of various ports.

He told the Herald, “As the light heavyweight champion of the home fleet, he was always a force to be reckoned with whenever fisticuffs were to be seen. He was a real character.”