December 11 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Norfolk’s new coroner, Jacqueline Lake, has a tough job following in William Armstrong’s footsteps, but she’s confident she can build on his success in providing a service which is sympathetic, sensitive and compassionate.
Mr Armstrong became something of a legend in his 18 years in the role.
He broadened the remit of the coroner to take a more active role in the community, and also instigated a number of pioneering initiatives, including establishing an inquest support service and appointing the country’s first coroner’s chaplain.
He also oversaw the move to a purpose-designed court at Eastgate House in Thorpe Road in Norwich.
Mrs Lake has been deputy coroner for 15 years, and spent the last month working with Mr Armstrong learning the ropes.
She takes over as Norfolk’s coroner tomorrow and said she was looking forward to it.
She will be based at the coroner’s offices in Thorpe Road, Norwich, which is just a short walk from the court at Eastgate House, but will also travel to King’s Lynn coroner’s court.
She said: “I have been deputy to Bill Armstrong for 15 years, and he, in turn, was deputy to the previous coroner, Jimmy Hipwell, who was also at Russell Steward solicitors where I worked. So it was always something I was familiar with.
“But I had apply for the position of Norfolk coroner.
“To become coroner, you need to have been a solicitor for five years, and to have been an assistant or deputy.
“Bill has been a coroner for a long time, and he will be a hard act to follow.
“I want to continue with the good work he’s done. He has put the coroner’s service at the heart of the community, and I will be looking to carry on with that.
“We try to make inquests as personal as possible. Mr Armstrong always shakes the relatives’ hands at the end of the inquest and thanks them for coming, and I do the same. I thank them for their input, as they provide a lot of background information.
“Having been Bill’s deputy will, of course, help. I have got to know a lot of the witness support services, who all do an excellent job.”
Her previous work as a solicitor in personal injury cases has also taught her most of the medical terms common in the coroner’s role.
She added: “Being a coroner is a very interesting role. There are lots of different parts to it. You are investigating deaths, holding inquests, and meeting lots of groups of people.”
But she admits that it can be hard unwinding at the end of the day after hearing so many sad cases.
“Running is my passion,” she said. “I run locally and in Lynn. I have done two marathons, in Edinburgh and Milton Keynes. I’m doing the London marathon in April. I’m running for kidney research, as my dad, Derek Trollope is on dialysis.
“I’m also doing the Norwich and Peterborough half-marathons later this year.
“It’s a good way to get out into the countryside. I run on my own or with friends. I’m a member of Dereham athletics club, and also train at Swaffham leisure centre.
“I also love reading, particularly fiction. I like thrillers especially. I like travelling and getting away on holiday.”
She is married to Ian Lake, a quantity surveyor in Lincoln, and she has two children from a previous marriage, Jacob, 23, and Caitlin, 18.
She added: “Jacob lives in Madrid where he teaches English. I love visiting him and travelling in general. I love travelling all over Europe. My daughter Caitlin is reading English at Bristol University.”
Born in Norwich, she grew up in Costessey, went to Wymondham College and then at 15 to Thetford Grammar School for Girls, when her parents moved. She then did her A-levels at college in west Norfolk.
Her father was an engineering manager and worked for Lotus.
She started work at Gerald Jones and Co solicitors in Thetford, and then moved to Russell Steward solicitors in Tombland, Norwich. She did her law finals in Newcastle and then moved back to Russell Steward, becoming a partner there.
She worked in criminal and family law, and ended up specialising in personal injury work.
Russell Steward then merged with Fosters solicitors where she was involved in employment law.
She did a master’s degree in employment law at the UEA, and said that if she had not got the coroner’s job she would have continued in employment law.
Another claim to fame is that she was the first woman to become president of the Norfolk and Norwich Law Society in 2002-2003.
As reported, Mr Armstrong welcomed friends to a farewell reception last week, where he was joined by his wife Monica and daughters Amy and Lucy, along with friends and colleagues, for a drinks reception at the Great Hospital in Norwich.
Mr Armstrong, 67, said the event was a chance to show his gratitude to those who had helped him during his time as coroner.