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Sudden Death and the Coroner

Booklet content © Victims Voice 2002                             Web design © Tim Finucane 2009

In memoriam

The author of this booklet, Mrs Patricia ‘Pip’ Finucane passed away on 6th August 2009 aged 80, after a short illness.


After the tragic death of her husband, retired airline pilot Capt. Peter M. J. Finucane, in 1995, she joined RoadPeace and later Victims’ Voice, working tirelessly to help improve an 800 year old system, that has all too often served to further rather than ease the suffering of the suddenly bereaved. A great many of these years were dedicated to the reform of the Coroners’ Bill.






Booklet content © Victims Voice 2002                             Web design © Tim Finucane 2009

Some words of remembrance...


"I corresponded with Pip through Victims Voice and was her contact within the Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology (AAPT). I was always amazed at the amount of energy she had especially when she let slip her age one day! I would like to pass on my condolences and also those of the AAPT members who had the privilege of meeting Pip. I think everyone who met Pip came away a little bit richer from the experience. Ishbel Gall  - Vice Chair AAPT, Mortuary Manager, Foresterhill Site, NHS Grampian 


"Pip was a tireless campaigner against the odds - I will remember both her passion and her integrity.  I enjoyed working with her on the coroners bill." Jane Hanna, Director, Epilepsy Bereaved


"Pip was so passionate about the Coroners reform bill, she really would try moving mountains to get what she felt the public deserved. I referred many callers to our helpline to her personally as she was "a font of all knowledge" and on the rare occasions she didn't know the answer, she always knew someone who did!! That was Pip. I shall miss her so much, she was a good friend to me and so many others, although we hadn't seen each other for about twelve years we had regular telephone/email contact. Rest peacefully dear Pip." Carole Whittingham, SCARD (Support & Care after Road Death & Injury)


"Pip and I met only a few years ago, but since then we have had many a long conversation about the coroner's service reform. Pip was very supportive of the aims of the Coroner's Officers Association and she was, and will continue to be, an inspiration to me to keep pushing for change for the coroner's officers service for the benefit of not only those working within the service but also to improve our service to bereaved people". Christine Hurst, Chair, Coroner's Officers Association


"I was fortunate to know Pip for sometime through my work (Southampton Mortuary and Bereavement services). She kindly attended our training course as well so her knowledge and understanding of process and the 'real world'

was invaluable. She also rang me from time to time and we always had much to talk about. Pip will be sadly missed and I for one feel without her help and guidance at times I would not have been able to undertake the standards reached by our current service. I hope that she can be remembered as a very kind, helpful and considerate person.” Gary Winson, Mortuary Manager MP 15, Dept of Clinical Pathology, Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust


“Pip worked with great energy and commitment to improve the Coroners Services for the Bereaved. She was always there the first one to pick up the latest event and ensuring that we all knew what was going on. Her commitment was unfailing and I will never forget how even when she was  coming to the end of her life she got in contact with me so as to ensure that certain action was taken. She saw no end to her desire to make things better and never accepted that there was an option of giving up on the struggles for improvement to the Coroners Services.  I spent many long hours discussing matters with her and learnt those painful lessons of how to question things with a critical yet realistic eye.  Her most admirable quality was of how she remained determined yet calm if things were not going the way we may want. Then she would make one feel that all that was required was another attempt, another letter or document and that even though the Coroners Services looked flawed and dismal it was possible according to Pip to improve things step by step. Pip will be deeply missed to all those who learnt so much from her and who valued her devotion to her friends and associates.” Erica Duggan, Coroner Service Public Accountability Action Group


"I had the immense privilege of knowing and working with Pip when I tragically lost my 13 year old son in a car crash.  It was thanks to Pip's dogged and quiet determination that I achieved some sort of justice, as far as our good old British legal system allowed at the time.  Pip was an amazing lady and, I am sure, over the last week you will probably have learnt of just how many people she helped - Pip was my absolute backbone at a time when my whole life was falling apart.  No matter how difficult, how many obstacles, she always came back with more constructive advice." Pat Curtis, Victims' Voice member


"Pip was a remarkable woman whose drive and energy has improved the lot of those affected by sudden tragic death." André Rebello, HM Coroner for the City of Liverpool, Hon Secretary of the Coroners' Society of England and Wales


"Pip was an amazingly determined and committed lady who worked tirelessly on behalf of bereaved families over many, many years". Ann Chalmers, Chief Executive, Child Bereavement Charity‬‪


"I came to know Pip through the review of coroner and death certification services. She was a great help to us, and always a very great pleasure to have dealings with. I am sorry to hear of her death, and will keep a very good memory of our contacts with her." Tom Luce


"I very much admired Pip, particularly for her campaigning skills, her determination and her ability to motivate those around her. I also enjoyed our chats and I will miss her." Linda Lee, Vice-President, Law Society


"I knew Pip through RoadPeace and had contact through the years re her work to reform the Coroner system. She worked so hard to draw attention to injustice and achieved so much. She will be remembered by so many for all she achieved." Pauline Fielding


"I and others from The Projects Company have had extensive contact with Pip over a long period of time, having first encountered her when she was involved with the charity, RoadPeace many years ago.  Since then we have supported her professionally with other charitable initiatives with which she was involved. Pip was a marvellous lady with a sharp mind, great integrity and an honourable and decent person – what a huge loss for those organisations that relied on her strength to go forward and an even greater loss I’m sure for her family." Gina Negus, The Projects Company


"I met Pip on only one or two occasions but recall her distinctly as a bright intelligent and lovely lady. Her concerns about the Coroner's courts I discussed with her on several occasions and I am sure that her legacy here will be appreciated by many". Andrew Greenwood, SCARD (Support & Care after Road Death & Injury)


"Pip was such a nice and sensible lady, she will be missed by everyone in this charity field. On behalf of FSID, please accept our sincere condolences." Joyce Epstein, FSID (Foundation for the Study of Infant Death)


"I knew Pip for a short time some years ago and will be eternally grateful to her for opening up to me a different set of experiences surrounding the death of a loved one in traumatic circumstances." Eileen Limacher, Pathology Liaison & Bereavement Nurse, Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


"Pip was a very smart person, as I am sure that you are already aware of but we will remember her for her intelligence and commitment to helping the bereaved understand the post mortem and inquest proceedings". Amy Aeron-Thomas, Executive Director, RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims


"I had never met Pip and only spoke to her on the telephone through our mutual interest in Coroners and Inquests, and she was always very helpful and full of knowledge.  In fact the last time I spoke to her she emailed all her contacts to sign a petition I was involved with. May she rest in peace, she was a very good person." Elaine Laga, MFSG (Military Families Support Group)


"Pip was a trail blazer and every time I hand out one of the victims voice pamphlets I thank her for making other people's journey on the same path easier and more comprehensible." Rowena Slater, Coroners Officer, West Midlands Police


"I heard Pip speak at a conference a few years ago and had many a conversation with her on the phone regarding Family Liaison (FLO) work; I used to be involved in FLO Training when I was a serving officer. She was truly dedicated to improvement of service delivery for those affected by unexpected death where Police FLO's would be involved; she certainly made me think and learn from what she had to say every time I spoke with her."

David Morgan QPM, Heddlu Dyfed-Powys Police Evaluator, Police Headquarters, Carmarthen


"I always enjoyed my conversations with Pip, she had a knack of asking questions that made you challenge your own assumptions. She has been a friend to coroners and always showed great understanding of the divide between aspiration and real world possibilities. She has done a great deal to assist bereaved families both individually and, with the Victim's Voice pamphlet, more generally." Christopher Dorries, HM Coroner South Yorkshire (West)


"I was so sorry to hear of Pip’s death. She was such a special lady and did so much to help bereaved people. She will be greatly missed." Debbie Kerslake, Chief Executive and Director of Services, Cruse Bereavement Care


"I worked with Pip when I was working in the traffic department as the Family liaison coordinator. She was a great women, very professional but also caring". April Holden, Force Reimbursement Liaison Officer, Merseyside Police


"I never actually met Pip but we have spent much time on the phone discussing the Family Liaison Officer role within the police service, and issues regarding the coroner service. She assisted in providing booklets and advice for the FLO courses I run for the Hampshire Roads Policing Unit, and my officers have been extremely grateful for the information which has been invaluable for bereaved families. Pip was indeed very committed in her work and it was always a pleasure to chat about various issues and put the world to rights over the phone!" PC Martin Vine, Roads Policing Training & Development (PP32), Hampshire Police


"I only met Pip a few times concerning Victims Voice but she struck me as a remarkable woman who has done a tremendous amount for people who have been involved with sudden violent death. In fact I believe she was instrumental in getting the Government to look at providing an independent person to support families in this situation. If, and when, that happens it will be down to her and others like her". Ann Parker, Bereavement Services Manager, North Bristol NHS Trust


"Pip was such a stalwart of the network of individuals and organisations we all worked with and I treasure the time she and I worked together to try and improve the way bereaved families are treated when confronted with the inquest system." Helen Shaw, Co-Director, INQUEST


"It is easy to reach for superlatives at a time such as this so it is with the utmost sincerity that I say that Pip was a truly extraordinary and special person". Dr Roderick Freeman, Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth


"Pip and I worked together for some years on bereavement issues - I was at the time responsible for bereavement issues in the Coroners Unit - and I came to respect and admire her for the way she championed the cause of Victims Voice and in particular for the excellent publication she produced on the work of the coroner which has been of inestimable value to bereaved families since its publication by Victims Voice some years ago. I also admired the way in which she championed the needs of victims in the wider context of the much needed reform of the coroner service and it’s a testimony to her that some of the changes she advocated are now bearing fruit. I had a number of meetings with Pip - we used to meet half way in a hotel foyer in Basingstoke - and was always impressed about how focused she was about the needs of others with little regard for herself." Leslie Sommer, Coroners Division, Department for Constitutional Affairs


"I am sorry to read of Pip's passing.  I met her briefly a couple of years ago when she was working on the Victim's Voice and HM Coroner Act consultation process. She was very passionate about the subject I recall, and if she approached her illness with the same verve, I'm sure she gave it a hard time!" David Williams, Head of Operations, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Division, South Central Ambulance Service


"We admired Pip so much for her many great contributions to help victims' organisations help more people. She will be missed greatly". Clive Elliott, Victims' Voice


"I met Pip several times as we were both members of Victim's Voice and I had great respect for her intellect and commitment to victims. A great loss to us all." Carole Longe


"Pip was a very special person, whose hard work and determination made a difference to many people's lives. She won't be forgotten". Barbara Goodfellow, ASSIST Trauma Care


"She was one of my best sources of information and an inspiration when I have felt the need to ‘campaign’ myself. A telephone discussion with Pip normally meant I became energised to push something on or ensure a worthwhile  conclusion." Andrew Grant, Detective Sergeant, Community Safety Unit, London Borough of Southwark


"We had lots of contact with Pip over the years due to her work with Victims' Voice. Her dedication and passion for improving the way the system supports victims - particularly in the coroners' courts - was always apparent and I am sure she will be very much missed by her family, friends and everyone she worked with." Nick Poyntz, Victim and Witness Unit, Ministry of Justice


"I was fortunate to meet Pip through Victims' Voice and enjoyed our meetings at Bournemouth. Her forthright manner coupled with articulate knowledge will be sadly missed.  A lovely lady - They don't make them like that anymore." Robert & Muriel Hussey 


"I am so sorry for the loss of Pip, I'm actually heart-broken. I knew this was coming, although I hoped it never would. I always made her laugh by asking what she was having for lunch - both our favourites were liver and onion. Pip and my son always connected, so I know as soon as I need her she will be there, we know the after life, see you soon Pip, help my dreams." Shanie Parkin




Pip with her eldest granddaughter Frida

enjoying a day out at Stonehenge, June 2004