Jim calls it a day after half century of police work

NOT every Coroners Officer’s filing system holds notes on the deaths of celebrities such as Spike Milligan and Rod Hull.

But after 16 years as a Coroner’s Officer and 30 years as a Police Officer, Jim Cornford has made his last entry on the computer files kept at Hastings Police Station.

Jim Cornford who is retiring as a coroners officer after 16 years

Jim Cornford who is retiring as a coroners officer after 16 years

The 65-year-old, who lives in Bexhill was given a surprise send off last Friday at the station’s social club when colleagues and friends gathered to say goodbye.

Her Majesty’s Coroner for East Sussex, Alan Craze, also made a speech to mark the occassion.

Hailing from Battle, Jim’s career began in 1967 when he joined West Sussex Constabulary aged 19.

He was first based in Shoreham but went on to police in Bexhill and Hastings.

In 1997 he joined the Coroner’s Office for East Sussex and began a new chapter in his career.

Little did he know how much it would impact on his life.

The Coroner’s Officers in Hastings and Rother deal with around 1,000 deaths and have to organise over 100 inquests per year.

He said, “It’s a very challenging role which I think the public doesn’t fully understand.

“They see programmes like Silent Witness which is so far from reality.

“It’s a sad fact that you do gradually become hardened to death to a degree.

“We are dealing with death all the time and you have to build up a kind of defence to it otherwise you would not be able to do the job.

“It can be a very demanding role which sees some officers called out to deal with fatalities at any time of day or night.

“This makes the working day a long and tiring one if the call out occurs at 2am for example.”

Jim dealt with comedian Rod Hull’s tragic fall from the roof of his home in Winchelsea in March 1999.

The 63-year-old had climbed up to try and get a better signal from his aerial during a Champions league match between Inter and Manchester United.

“It was a sad end for such a famous and well loved character,” added Jim “I also dealt with Spike Milligan’s death.

“There was nothing controversial about it, just very interesting to get a window on his world as he lived in Peasmarsh.

“His doctor hadn’t seen him for about three months before he died so dealing with his death was just a formality really.

“It’s very important for a Coroner’s Officer to put a bereaved family first and treat them with sensitivity.

“A couple of years ago I was contemplating early retirement but after one inquest a bereaved daughter said to me ‘You must not retire yet, you must keep working and do what you are doing so that you can help other families the way you have helped us’

“I have never forgotten those word. It was comments like these that made the whole job worthwhile.”