MP Owen Paterson reveals his ‘unimaginable anguish’ after wife Rose killed herself


MP Owen Paterson has revealed he hasn’t even begun to process the death of his wife, five months after she took her own life.  

Paterson told MailOnline of the ‘unimaginable anguish’ his family is suffering in the wake of their heartbreaking loss and said the desk of his ‘best friend’ Rose has remained untouched since the day she died.

Mrs Paterson, who was 64 and chairman of Aintree Racecourse, took her own life in woodland close to the couple’s home near Ellesmere, Shropshire in June.  

She gave no clue she was planning to take her own life before hanging herself in the woods. But she had researched suicide on the internet, it was later discovered.  

Her grieving husband, MP for North Shropshire, is now embarking on a mission to help build Britain’s suicide prevention strategies as he struggles to come to terms with her death. 

The wife of Tory MP Owen Paterson, Rose Paterson, pictured together, died from suicide on July 24 

Paterson said if he can do something to save at least a single life, his quest will be worthwhile.

‘I shall be working at both local and national level to build suicide prevention strategies and support those organisations offering help to people with mental health issues.

‘There are organisations in Shropshire that are there 24 hours a day to help. 

An inquest into Mrs Paterson’s death heard her computer history revealed she had searched websites on the subject of suicide in the days before her death.

The internet sites have appalled the MP who wants action taken to prevent people reading the material

He said: ‘These sites use incredibly seductive language, very measured narrative and are horribly inviting.

‘I am looking to see if there is any way anything can be done about these dreadful sites.’

Mrs Paterson was the chairman of Aintree Racecourse

Mrs Paterson was the chairman of Aintree Racecourse

He said he had met the coroner John Ellery who officiated over the inquest into his wife’s death and had established that there had been 39 suicides in Shropshire in 2020.

Mr Paterson also held talks with the mental health charity, Shropshire Mind and the Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire Suicide Prevention Network.

He said he feared the Covid restrictions will affect the mental health of many people and appealed to anyone feeling down or unhappy to tell someone.

‘Nothing, absolutely nothing justifies taking your own life.

‘The effect it has on family and friends is absolutely catastrophic and life lasting. If I can prevent just one other family going through this, it will be worthwhile.’ 

He was speaking at their home, where her desk is as it was the day she died with files for Aintree racecourse neatly stacked up to deal with and with notes preparing for a family meal alongside.

His desk, which is next to his wife’s has a photo of her and contains the usual constituency work,alongside books and papers on suicide.

‘We had been together for 45 years and married for 40. She was my best friend and I don’t think that I have even begun to take in what has happened.

‘She was a major figure in the racing industry and she played such a big role in many charities and trusts, such as Weston Park. This year alone she raised £35,000 for the Horatio’s Garden project for patients with spinal injuries at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.

‘She was so well liked, so full of life.’

Mr Paterson spoke to the Mail Online from his Shropshire home where he said his wife Rose's desk has remained untouched next to his since her death

Mr Paterson spoke to the Mail Online from his Shropshire home where he said his wife Rose’s desk has remained untouched next to his since her death

He told the Shropshire Star that her death had affected him and their three children badly and left him with many regrets.

‘It has had a catastrophic effect. Rose will never see her grandchildren grow up, she will never know how much she was loved, how well she was regarded.

‘Four months after Rose’s death the total devastation and appalling anguish gets no better, it simply gets worse.

The MP says that the national suicide figures are grim reading with the Samaritans saying that there were 5,691 suicides in England and Wales in 2019, 321 more than the year before.

‘That is 16 people taking their lives every day.

‘There is tremendous work taking place in Shropshire thanks to Shropshire Mind and the Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire Suicide Prevention Network.

‘Anything I can do to help I will. I will also be taking this nationally to look at suicide prevention strategies and how the government can help and how the appalling websites on suicide with their horribly inviting language can be deal with.

‘Suicide is now the leading cause of premature mortality in men younger than 50 – and another shocking statistic is that one in 20 suicide attempts succeed, which means there are far more people in the frame of mind that they try to take their own life.

‘There are very obvious issues that can lead to suicide: alcohol, drugs, money problems, losing a job and marital breakdowns and well as ongoing mental health.

‘But there are also people like Rose who have none of those issues and who have given absolutely no outward indication of their intention.’

Mr and Mrs Paterson have three children, a daughter Evie, right with her parents, and two sons Ned and Felix

Mr and Mrs Paterson have three children, a daughter Evie, right with her parents, and two sons Ned and Felix

He is also focussing into the possible effect of Covid on mental health.

He and his wife contracted coronavirus at the beginning of the lockdown and he was ill for weeks, but his wife recovered far more quickly.

He said he was pondering if the virus could have had an effect on her mental health.

‘Rose didn’t do being ill and with the family at home she rallied round and seemed to get better far sooner than I did.

‘But ongoing research into the virus shows that, while it has a bigger, physical effect on men, women are disproportionately affected neurologically. Some it seems have had mini strokes and others behavioural changes.

‘The last lockdown was in glorious weather when people could get outside, this is going to be a very grim winter and it could have a very serious impact on mental health.

Felix Paterson

Ned Paterson

Along with a daughter, Evie, the Patersons also have two sons Felix (left) and Ned (right) 

‘This is why it is even more important that, if you are feeling in the least bit down or unhappy, tell someone. Tell your family or a friend, tell a teacher or a work colleague.

‘Nothing, absolutely nothing justifies taking your own life. I read a book that says, that the last thing you should do when you are feeling suicidal, is kill yourself.

‘I have talked to a lot of people, those who have lost close family or friends to suicide and to those who have made attempts on their own life.

‘One family told me that 40 years on from their son’s death they have not got over it.

‘It is the finality of everything. Having to cancel bank accounts or subscriptions, seeing the leaves drop from the trees and knowing she won’t see the new leaves grow in the spring.

‘It is waking to a beautiful day and knowing that she can’t enjoy it.

‘If I can do something to stop one person ending their life, one family having to endure the anguish, it will be worthwhile.’

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123, visit a local branch or go to www.samaritans.org    



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Tigers legend Merv Keane has found new purpose after unimaginable loss


‘Karen from Brighton’ may well be bored of circling the very same suburban streets, but Mervyn from Abbotsford has observed a new enthusiasm when he sets off on the daily walks that fill the usually meandering hrs of Melbourne’s second lockdown.

Mervyn has re-found out the natural wonders of a country childhood in his city neighbourhood — indigenous wildlife formerly unnoticed when he took his each day workout at a local health and fitness center.

Outside the house now, strolling the Yarra river trails, a bee has lodged in his bonnet: he wishes council acceptance to don gardening gloves and restore indigenous vegetation to the bend of the river near his condominium. He suggests it will inspire the re-emergence of the area’s after-thriving inhabitants of insects and birds.

At the age of 66, as other folks huddle beneath blankets and scroll the Netflix menu, Mervyn is obtaining miles into a pair of knee replacements and going through an environmental “awakening”, signing up for the Yarra Riverkeeper Association, an advocacy team that lobbies for green areas and biodiversity he’s identified the on the web Inaturalist group, learning additional about the plant and animal life of his surroundings.

Mervyn from Abbotsford is far better recognised as Merv Keane, triple-premiership Tiger.

Merv Keane (still left) flies significant in excess of North Melbourne’s Arnold Briedis in the 1974 VFL grand last, which Keane’s Tigers gained by 41 points.(Supplied: Merv Keane)

All those who viewed him in his Hafey-era pomp at Richmond bear in mind unassuming ‘Merv the Minder’, the Corridor of Fame and Richmond Crew of the Century defender who took star forwards out of the match throughout the club’s 1973, ’74 and ’80 flag strategies — a workforce person who, for most of his career, possessed a lot more premiership medals than Brownlow votes.

So Wycheproof, the north-west Victorian wheat town with a a few-determine population and a coach line managing down the major avenue, renowned generally for possessing the world’s smallest mountain, had generated an unpretentious footballing equal.

“He just defeat good quality opponents with monotonous regularity,” his previous teammate Kevin Bartlett when mentioned.

Keane’s passage to the large-time even now reads like Roy of the Rovers fulfills Marty Robbins.

In 1970, Tigers CEO Alan Schwab roared into the most important avenue of Wycheproof in a Cadillac and collared the 17-calendar year-aged as he remaining Sunday Mass. Keane remembers a intense northerly wind blowing a cartoonish tumbleweed down the highway as Schwab fastened his stare on the boy and said he’d convert him into a winner.

Not extensive right after, newly-set up as the lodger at the property of a Tigers again pocket by the name of Sheedy, the extensive-eyed nation kid disembarked at Richmond station and ran across the footbridge to Gosch’s Paddock for his to start with education operate. The only trouble: it took him two hours to realise he’d joined Melbourne’s session.

Fortuitously, the kid from Wycheproof inevitably picked up his signing reward — a Richmond towel and badge — and uncovered his way across to Punt Highway Oval.

“Background hadn’t been composed then, but the begin of it for me was Alan Schwab, Tom Hafey and Kevin Sheedy,” Keane states, pausing reverently to contemplate the historic bodyweight of his mentors’ names.

Merv Keane receiving his Australian Football Hall of Fame honour
Right after finishing 48 years of continuous company to Australian football, Keane was awarded AFL Existence Membership final year.(Supplied: Richmond Soccer Club)

A story to inform

Getting resisted the pull of a memoir, Merv Keane is now an unlikely biographer.

Very last 12 months he threw himself wholeheartedly into composing the story of Scott Industry, 1 of his bravest proteges when he coached Sturt. Subject dropped his existence in a mountaineering accident in 2014, at 45.

“At his funeral, we listened to his lifestyle story from begin to end, and it turned obvious that I might played an integral job in his existence,” states Keane, who’d never ever held any literary aspirations.

“I still left thinking, ‘I’ve received to create this bloke’s tale. He’s also good to be laid to relaxation permanently.'”

To say road blocks lay ahead is a grave understatement.

In September 2017, Keane endured personalized tragedies that sternly tested the fortitude that experienced been the calling card of his soccer everyday living.

Merv Keane's wife Faye and his daughter Emily.
Merv Keane is guaranteeing that the legacies of his spouse Faye and daughter Emily Keane reside on through his advocacy work.(Equipped: Merv Keane)

At the get started of that month, his 36-year-previous daughter Emily, a brilliant gynaecologist and obstetrician, died following a 4-12 months struggle with alcoholism and despair.

Three weeks afterwards, inconsolable with grief, Keane’s spouse Kaye took her individual everyday living.

In the a few a long time since, Keane’s courageous and dignified reinvention has been a resource of speculate and awe to all those who beforehand understood him as a silent-obtaining coach and AFL recruiter.

Publishing his 1st e-book has been only a person move in the healing course of action, but it has been a vital a single, letting him to confront his grief and generate some thing that carried Kaye and Emily’s spirits forward.

“Kaye and I experienced begun writing the ebook together, travelling to Adelaide and meeting Scott’s spouse and children,” Keane suggests.

“We had been co-writers. You can find no doubt that a large part of crafting the e-book was what happened to our spouse and children.

“It has been great treatment for our family. My son Joel grew to become my ‘analyst’ and co-author in the later on phases of the e-book.”

An unimaginable loss

In September 2017, prior to all the composing, the campaigning and the environmentalism, Merv Keane experienced to choose his initially actions forward.

In the encounter of unimaginable heartbreak, soccer offered the preliminary route.

Towards his 1st impulse, Keane was confident to show up at the 2017 grand final with Joel, a few times immediately after Kaye’s demise.

Donning black armbands in honour of Kaye (a mark of respect Essendon had confirmed three months earlier for Emily), the Tigers won ecstatically, 37 yrs on from Keane and the club’s last lap of honour at the MCG.

Richmond's Jack Riewoldt takes a hanger in the first quarter against Adelaide
Richmond wore black armbands in honour of Kaye Keane through their 2017 Grand Ultimate triumph.(AAP: Julian Smith)

6 months right after that, Keane stepped onto the established of Fox Footy’s Open Mike and bared his soul — the most community and potentially unpleasant stage of his restoration, but a person he dealt with with supreme grace and dignity.

“What struck me when he came in to report that episode was his composure,” the show’s host Mike Sheahan says.

At that level, the thriller to Keane and all people around him was what arrived subsequent.

Counsellors warned versus a slump. Keane found their solution unfeeling and educational, preferring to talk with folks who knew the relatives.

“You could feel them truly listening,” he claims.

Keane’s “Richmond upbringing” arrived to the fore, as did the values of the farm boy.

His Sturt close friends stood up. Keane moved out of the relatives house in Ivanhoe, shifting to his daughter’s apartment in Abbotsford and commencing once again.

Four men pose for a photo with their arms around each other.
Keane (second from ideal) catches up with fellow Sturt Football Club legends (from still left) Dave Reynolds, Greg Whittlesea and Peter Motley.(Provided: Merv Keane)

“The other big issue was that our loved ones understood that inadequate Emily was unwell for 4 a long time,” Keane claims.

“I would normally say to the handful of men and women I took into my self-assurance throughout that time that I’d do every little thing in my energy to aid her get improved.

“That drove me. It drove me for 4 several years. So, as challenging as it was, it wasn’t a shock.

“As a spouse and children, we’d been preparing ourselves for what would transpire if she couldn’t adjust her practices.”

Keane could at some point trace hints of a renewed intent back to that bittersweet grand remaining day in 2017.

As it progressed, a great deal of arms had been thrown all around his shoulders and Joel’s.

1 belonged to previous Premier Jeff Kennett, who has since opened doorways so the former Tiger can agitate for adjust: the Victorian Coroner’s Office environment has now acknowledged that a template letter outlining an investigation of his daughter’s loss of life — the letter he wishes that fate experienced positioned in his fingers, not in those of his late wife — was phrased insensitively, throwing Kaye further more into a condition of distress.

“We acquired the letter on the Monday, and Kaye died on the Wednesday,” Keane suggests.

“She was in these kinds of a fragile point out, and she could not support repeating these words and phrases in her head. She was blaming herself.

“If she hadn’t have read that letter, it wouldn’t have transpired. I have no question in my intellect.”

A new goal

Now Keane is an advocate on that and other fronts, pursuing his triggers with the similar unswerving technique of his taking part in times.

What fires him up most is altering the place of work culture of hospitals, and selling welfare applications that handle the pressures youthful doctors are remaining put under.

With the exact zeal he introduced to hundreds of pre-game speeches, he addresses rooms entire of health-related specialists and tells his tale as component of the Emily Keane Gumboot system attendees receive a welfare package made up of a pair of the colourful gumboots that ended up Emily’s trademark in the birthing suite.

“It really is about currently being ready to accept vulnerability,” Keane claims.

“A quite modest percentage of junior medical professionals truly have their have GP. They have this sense of invincibility, and they are really hardworking. But they’re overworked, they are stressed and they are susceptible. I’m making an attempt to improve that and get money into welfare and wellbeing resources.

“It can be not good adequate to have section-time welfare officers, numerous of whom are executing an further total-time position as a health care provider.

Keane’s significant spouse and children and network of supportive mates have offered even more ballast.

His bond with sons Joel and Zac has strengthened, and he is found himself re-cementing his interactions with previous teammates, opponents and his old mentor Tony Jewell.

“I retain stating, ‘we’ve all been blessed in so lots of strategies as well,'” Keane says.

“Our dad and mom gave us a person lifestyle and we will continue to reside at full throttle.”

He’s reconnected with a different Richmond flag hero, Mick Malthouse, who became a stranger when the two previous Tigers had been aligned to distinctive AFL golf equipment.

As soon as a week they stroll the Yarra path with each other, finding up where they left off many years in the past.

“He’s a extremely appealing and humorous person and has really informed sights of the entire world,” suggests Keane, who is godfather to Malthouse’s son Kane.

There are also two a lot more textbooks in the operates, but Keane marks his get the job done like a mentor might.

“I am going to give myself a pass with the to start with guide, but I consider I can do greater up coming time,” he suggests.

Six weeks ago, Keane also turned a grandparent for the initially time many thanks to son Zac and his associate Erin, very pleased moms and dads to Beatrice Kaye, aka ‘Trixy’.

In these lockdown moments, it has introduced Keane each pleasure and frustration.

It has also raked up the emotions of nervous apprehension seasoned when he 1st held his own young children, feeling the unmistakable hurry of family like but also sensing the fragility of life.

“It is like dealing with a treasured tiny piece of crystal, just isn’t it?”



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