Statement issued by family of Patricia Mills

The daughters of an elderly woman who was found dead after being reported missing from her Turlin Moor home have issued a statement thanking the emergency services for their assistance.

In the statement, issued as presented to Dorset Police, Coralie and Lynne Mills said: "At teatime on 3 April 2012 the alarm was raised that 80-year-old Patricia Mills was missing from her home at Turlin Moor, Hamworthy, and Dorset Police rapidly instigated a massive search operation which continued well into the night and from first light next morning.

"The Daily Echo stood by to print a missing person alert on the 4 April, but before the paper went to print the Dorset Search and Rescue (DorSAR) team had found a body at Rockley Lake, believed to be Patricia, and the Echo printed that news on the 4th. Soon after formal identification of the body later that day, the Coroner opened and adjourned an inquest, which was the last information to appear in the media until now.

"Since then the Coroner has returned the cause of death as ‘natural causes’ attributed to heart failure, and Pat’s family and friends have held a private funeral and paid their last respects.

"Pat’s daughters would now like to make the family’s gratitude known publicly to the many people who have helped us through this difficult time. We are extremely grateful to Dorset Police, especially Inspector Matt Baxter who co-ordinated the search, the many people directly involved in the search, including police officers, helicopter crews and dog teams, the Coastguard personnel, the DorSAR volunteers who found her, and last but not least Pat’s neighbours and carers who also went out searching for her as soon as the alarm was raised.

"The police have many and varied duties, and breaking bad news to next of kin must be one of the toughest; PC Nick Mantle performed this duty with a strength and warmth that made it bearable.

"Sergeant Shaun Sutton has been our key point of contact within Dorset Police, assigned as our family liaison officer, a role which we were previously unaware existed but now so glad that it does. Sgt Sutton has been there for us throughout, answering our questions and willing to help with anything we needed, and we are extremely grateful to him.

"It may strike the reader as strange, but the certainty provided by an inquest is an immense comfort in a situation like this, and we would like to thank Coroner’s Officer Allan Young, our point of contact through the inquest process, for being so helpful and responsive.

"So many family members, friends and professionals as well as mum’s lovely carers and neighbours, have helped us over the last few weeks, with emotional and practical support. Something we have learned is how helpful it has been to know and follow mum’s wishes for the funeral arrangements, something perhaps more of us should consider addressing. It really is a huge comfort to next of kin at the most stressful of times. Father Ron Hishon, a local priest who knew Pat, led the most beautiful and meaningful funeral service and has given the family immense support, we are very grateful to him.

"Pat, our lovely mum, was a kind gentle person, and we think she would be heartened, as we are, by the immense kindness received from so many quarters during this difficult time."

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