Thursday, March 14, 2013
For almost two decades William Armstrong has tried to ensure wherever possible that lessons are learned from the sudden and unexpected deaths of people across Norwich and Norfolk to prevent future tragedies.
But the Norfolk coroner, who has made it his mission to put the families of bereaved first, has announced he is to retire at the end of September.
Mr Armstrong, 67, has been involved in conducting inquests since 1986 and has been a full coroner for the past 18 years and said it had been an immense privilege to serve the people of Norfolk in the role.
He said: “I feel very strongly that the coroner should serve the community and not just be an aloof judicial figure and what I’ve tried to do is widen the traditional remit of the coroner’s role by being involved in the community.
“I believe an inquest is partly a judicial investigation, but also a process which needs to be conducted with care and dignity and I believe very strongly that bereaved families must be at the forefront of the process and I’ve tried to do that.
“I believe very strongly that every life is unique and every death is unique and have tried very hard to individualise the process and not only talk about the death of the person, but their life too.”
Mr Armstrong, a patron of Nelson’s Journey which supports children affected by bereavement and a figure which has backed a number of Evening News campaigns, including A Friend in Need, said the coroner plays an important part in promoting public safety and learning lessons from deaths.
He said: “As well as investigating deaths the coroner does have a wider role in trying to promote safety and recognise measures to reduce the possibility of further deaths and I’ve done that on a number of occasions and it’s a very satisfying role.”
During his tenure a number of pioneering initiatives have been instigated in Norfolk including establishing an inquest support service, providing a new purpose-designed court and appointing the country’s first coroners chaplain.