Rose Paterson: Inquest into death of Aintree Racecourse chairman

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
Rose Paterson
Rose Paterson was appointed as Aintree Racecourse chairman in 2014

The husband of Aintree Racecourse chairman Rose Paterson has paid tribute to his "dedicated, loving" wife after a coroner recorded a verdict of suicide at an inquest into her death.

The mother of three, 63, was found in woodland near their home on 24 June.

Owen Paterson, Conservative MP for North Shropshire, said his family were a long way from coming to terms with the tragedy.

He said the verdict was "tragic for me, our family and all who knew her".

While Mrs Paterson had been making travel plans in the days before her death, she had also researched suicide, an inquest in Shrewsbury heard.

Mr Paterson, a former Northern Ireland Secretary, added: "We were married for 40 very happy years.

"Rose will be remembered as a devoted, loving wife, mother and grandmother, as well as a most successful professional in her varied careers in the arts, charity and racing. We are still a long way from beginning to come to terms with her death.

"If I can help to prevent just one family going through the extreme anguish that our family is currently suffering, I will have done something really worthwhile."

Mrs Paterson's brother, the biologist and writer Matt Ridley, said: "All of us in Rose's family are in full agreement and support of this statement at this terrible time. Owen and his children are in our thoughts."

The inquest heard Mr Paterson contacted police on the evening of 23 June after his wife had not been seen since about 22:00 BST the previous day and had failed to answer phone calls and text messages.

Mrs Paterson's body was found by officers in woodland near the family home in Ellesmere, Shropshire, in the early hours of 24 June.

In a statement read out at the hearing, Mr Paterson - who followed proceedings via a video link - said he had spent the previous weekend at home with his wife before returning to London for parliamentary business.

He said Mrs Paterson had planned to chair a virtual Aintree board meeting on 24 June and to have dinner one evening to celebrate his birthday. She had also made plans to visit her daughter in France.

He said Mrs Paterson did not leave a suicide note or tell him she intended to take her life.

The couple's youngest son, Ed, said he had dinner at home with his mother on the evening of 22 June and she had seemed positive. He kissed her on the head and said goodnight when she fell asleep in an armchair at about 22:00.

It was the last time she was seen alive.

Earlier that day, Louise Lane, an equine instructor who knew Mrs Paterson for 30 years, rode out with her and said she had appeared out of character.

She described her friend as "just a lovely woman" who was down to earth, with no airs and graces.

The inquest heard Mrs Paterson had a history of anxiety and depression.

Police said there was no suspicion of third-party involvement in her death.

After her death, a minute's silence was held at race meetings in her memory and that of Grand National-winning jockey Liam Treadwell, whose death was announced on 24 June.

Mrs Paterson, the daughter of the fourth Viscount Ridley, was on the main board of stewards at the Jockey Club, which owns Aintree Racecourse, home of the Grand National and other leading tracks, including Cheltenham.

She was appointed chairman of Aintree in 2014, having been a racecourse committee director there since 2005.

Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner John Ellery, noted that Mrs Paterson was found in remote woodland and had carried out three internet searches on suicide from 27 May onwards.

Asked if he had anything to add, Mr Paterson replied: "It is very tragic and I would ask the press to respect the family's privacy at this terrible time."

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