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Health and social care failings led to Ambridge tragedy


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Monday, 4 April 2016

Health and social care failings led to Ambridge tragedy

Felpersham social services stand accused of negligence following the fatal stabbing of Ambridge resident Rob Titchener.

Mr Titchener’s pregnant wife Helen is facing arrest in connection with the incident. A five year-old boy, thought to be Mrs Titchener’s son from a previous relationship, is being cared for by relatives pending an assessment by social services.

Mr Titchener was found face-down in a bowl of custard with a single stab-wound when police were called on Sunday evening. Sources confirmed that the custard had been freshly made and was not “that dreadful stuff out of a tin”.

The remains of a tuna bake have been taken away for analysis.

Local people rounded on social services bosses, accusing them of “ignoring the warning signs” in the run-up to the tragedy, including two and half years during which details of the couple’s relationship had been broadcast several times a week on national radio.

NHS professionals also came in for criticism after it emerged that Mrs Titchener had not been taking medication prescribed for suspected mental health problems. An unopened packet of anti-depressants was found at the scene.

Neighbours described Mr Titchener as a “lovely man” who was supporting his wife through the last stages of a difficult pregnancy.  One said: “She was desperate for a home birth, and Rob had gone out of his way to arrange it for her.”

Others talked of the sacrifices promising cricketer Mr Titchener had made for his wife.

Resident Lynda Snell said: “He was always there for Helen. Nothing was too much trouble. He was worried about her driving, so he ran her everywhere. He monitored her phone calls to spare her any unnecessary stress.  And he was forever buying new clothes for her – everyone remarked on how her appearance had improved since she stopped going out in all those low-cut tops. He even had his mum come and stay to help out with the cooking. She was lovely.”

Helen’s brother Tom Archer said the former single-mum appeared to have “turned her life around” after Mr Titchener appeared on the scene.  “He treated Helen’s son like his own and was trying to get him into a better school. He also covered for her when she failed to turn up to work at the shop, which was becoming pretty much a daily occurrence,” he said.

Mr Titchener had put his own career as a herd manager on hold to care for his wife and troubled stepson. “The real tragedy here is that he had almost no support from public services,” said Mr Archer, blaming cuts to social care budgets and mounting pressure on the local NHS.

“I didn’t always see eye to eye with Rob about Ambridge Organics’ retail policy. We had regular disagreements about the black pudding scotch eggs and sometimes it seemed like he wanted to be in control of everything, but I see now it was only because he cared.”

Meanwhile Ambridge resident and supporter of Mrs Titchener, Kirsty Miller, has been cautioned by Borsetshire police for making allegedly slanderous remarks about the dead man on Twitter.

A spokesperson for Felpersham Hospital said it was still possible that Mr Titchener could make a miraculous recovery. “As far as we’re concerned, he’s definitely dead, but we have a team of emergency scriptwriters working round the clock, so I wouldn’t rule anything out at this stage.”

Agricultural editor: Julian Patterson


It's unlikely that you'll have read this far if you're not already an Archers fan, but if you are new to the Rob and Helen storyline, you can catch up here.

And while we sincerely hope that no one affected by this story would seek advice from the blog, the BBC provides links to sources of advice and support.