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Norwich artist Sarah ‘Topsy’ Gardner who drowned in Norwich’s River Wensum helped by wellbeing service before her death

PUBLISHED: 16:01 16 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:01 16 October 2017

Sarah 'Topsy' Gardner, 60, from Sprowston Road in Norwich, who died after drowning in the River Wensum in Norwich. Photo: Norfolk Police

Sarah 'Topsy' Gardner, 60, from Sprowston Road in Norwich, who died after drowning in the River Wensum in Norwich. Photo: Norfolk Police

Archant

A caring graphic artist who drowned in Norwich’s River Wensum self-referred for anxiety and depression workshops before her death, an inquest has heard.

Sarah ‘Topsy’ Gardner, 60, from Sprowston Road in Norwich, was found in the area of water at New Mills Yard on March 31.

Her body was recovered by the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s dive team.

Her partner and good friend of 14 years, Adam Thirtl, also from Sprowston Road, reported her missing to Norfolk Police on March 18.

Miss Gardener’s mother, sister, brother-in-law and Mr Thirtl attended her inquest on Monday, October 16, in Norwich.

It heard the 60-year-old, who was not working when she died, suffered with physical stomach pain, an eating disorder, weight loss, anxiety and depression.

She had completed stress workshops through the Norfolk and Waveney Wellbeing Service from May 10 until November 25, 2016.

Miss Gardner was also on a waiting list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Area coroner Yvonne Blake said the medical cause of death was drowning and recorded a narrative conclusion.

She said: “Miss Gardner had self-referred for psychological therapy. For several months she became more isolated.”

During the hearing, Ms Blake added: “There is some evidence she was in a low mood...and she had stopped taking anti-depressants. I’m not sure about her state of mind. By all accounts she was doing well with the wellbeing service.”

Berkshire-born Miss Gardner had been a patient at Norwich’s St Stephens Gate Medical Practice since 1993 where she went for numerous appointments.

The inquest heard Miss Gardner had previously indicated suicidal thoughts but expressed she would not act on them.

Julia Hannewald, a wellbeing service CBT therapist who saw Miss Gardner on January 6, said: “I remember being impressed by her determination to improve things. She was a caring and diligent lady who didn’t want to burden people with her difficulties. I didn’t consider there would be a risk of her taking her own life.”

Ms Blake said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Miss Gardner’s death.

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