England

Jo Yeates: 'Modest, shy, full of fun'

  • 28 October 2011
  • From the section England
Jo Yeates and boyfriend Greg Reardon
Jo Yeates met Greg Reardon when they worked in Winchester

Jo Yeates's life was "perfect" before she was brutally murdered last Christmas by neighbour Vincent Tabak, her parents have said.

She had recently graduated with a postgraduate diploma in landscape architecture and, two months earlier, had moved to a garden flat with boyfriend Greg Reardon in the upmarket Clifton area of Bristol.

Friends described the 25-year-old as "talented", "modest" and "easygoing".

They believed her relationship of two years with Mr Reardon, 27, was "the real deal" for her long-term future.

Jo Yeates
The 25-year-old was a free spirit, her friend and former colleague said

"It was a joy to go into work with her every day," said friend and former colleague Phil Deacon.

"She used to sit next to me at work and she was a great laugh."

Mr Deacon and Miss Yeates became colleagues when they worked as landscape architects in Winchester, Hampshire, the county where she grew up.

"She was a free spirit who loved being outdoors," Mr Deacon added.

Miss Yeates was raised in the nearby village of Ampfield, where her parents Teresa and David still live, and attended private school.

After sixth-form at Peter Symonds College in Winchester, she gained a degree from Writtle Agricultural College in Essex, followed by a postgraduate diploma from the University of Gloucestershire.

Brodie McAllister, Miss Yeates's university lecturer, said she was "modest and quite shy in groups, but sort of bubbly on an individual level and full of fun".

'Tremendous talent'

He said she had found a profession that "embodied all her passions because it combined creative design with ecology and wildlife".

"Being a tremendous talent she would have then offered much more."

Jo Yeates, with her parents and brother on her 18th birthday
Jo Yeates grew up in Ampfield, Hampshire, with her parents and brother

It was while starting her career in Winchester that Miss Yeates met boyfriend Greg Reardon.

The company they both worked for relocated to Bristol and the young couple followed.

They joined a new firm, BDP in Clifton, where Miss Yeates worked full-time while she studied for her postgraduate diploma.

It was at BDP's offices that Mr Reardon last saw Miss Yeates on 17 December 2010, as he kissed her goodbye before leaving for a weekend in Sheffield.

Tabak killed her later that day.

Butterfly garden

Plans are now under way for a memorial garden at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, an arboretum of 42,000 trees and shrubs near Ampfield, where Miss Yeates once worked.

Jo Yeates with an example of her coursework
Jo Yeates was a tremendous talent in the field of landscape architecture, her university lecturer said

Mr Deacon, who is part of the team behind the plans, said it was Miss Yeates's father who had suggested the theme, a butterfly garden designed by his daughter during her time at the arboretum.

"They had that archived here, so we dug that out and read through it and it just seemed like, you know, what a great concept," he said.

"I think anybody who comes here, they might not necessarily know it's a memorial but people who do know her will feel 'oh yes, this just epitomises what Jo's personality was like', very organic, natural and hopefully people will go away feeling a bit of warmth."