A heartbroken father today described the moment he phoned his daughter to find out what she wanted for Christmas – only to be told she had died five weeks earlier.
Ian Innes had been away on holiday, and it was only when he tried to phone his daughter Cheryl Innes that her partner revealed she had died on October 18.
Mr Innes, 61, said: “Normally Cheryl contacts us to let us know what she wants for her birthday and Christmas. When she hadn’t called I phoned her and her partner said she had died five weeks ago.”
Mr Innes said his daughter, 42, had partial Down’s Syndrome and died of natural causes relating to her diabetes.
She lived with her partner of four years, Glynn Bull, in Agnew Street, Lytham.
Mr Bull, 52, said: “That day she was up and about as normal to take her tablets and her insulin but she told me she was tired and wanted to go back to bed. She told me to wake her up for her programmes.
“When I went to wake her up, she was gone.”
Mr Bull immediately rang for an ambulance and a 999 operator talked him through CPR.
“I looked after Cheryl – I put my heart and soul into looking after her,” Mr Bull said.
“She was my friend and she was my life. She always made me smile.”
Because of a fault on Miss Innes’ phone, which meant he couldn’t access her phone directory, Mr Bull, who didn’t have her father’s number or address, said he was unable to contact him to tell him the sad news.
He told police where he thought Mr Innes lived but searches were unsuccessful.
Mr Innes, of Longridge, Preston, said: “It was such an absolute shock. Glynn was very upset and kept telling me he did the best he could but he wasn’t able to save her. I’d seen her before I went away and she seemed fine and chirpy.
“At least she was asleep and she still thinks she’s asleep. It’s our only comfort that she didn’t suffer.”
Mr Innes, who used to work for AG Peters in Blackpool, said he saw more of his daughter when he worked nearby.
“She was classed as partial Down’s Syndrome, but she had her own characteristics,” he said.
“She could be bubbly and fine one minute and a bit down the next, but that’s Down’s. She was really strong willed.”
Miss Innes suffered heart problems as a youngster and spent most of her childhood in children’s homes.
As an adult she threw herself into a new life, settling on the Fylde coast and eventually making a home with her partner Glynn.
Miss Innes never worked and lost contact with her mother in adult life.
Mr Innes said his daughter was a popular woman who enjoyed her independence.
He added: “Glynn loved her to bits and they were going to last forever.”
Mr Innes said he was disappointed no-one was able to contact him to tell him the news.
“If I hadn’t rung her it could have been Christmas before I went round,” he said. “Someone would have to say she wasn’t here any more, and that’s horrendous.”
When someone dies, the next of kin are usually contacted by Blackpool and Fylde Coroners Office which, despite its best efforts, says it was unable to trace anyone in the Innes family.
Coroners officer PC Ken Lord says he did everything he could to try to contact Miss Innes’ family, including searching the Electoral Register.
He said: “We checked the voters’ register which came back negative, as did a hospital check and a GP check. I put Mr Innes’ details in the online BT phonebook but nothing came up.
“We did everything we could, but found nothing. Unfortunately he must have slipped through the net.”
Miss Innes’ funeral will be held at Lytham Crematorium on Friday.