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Wife of Shelterbox founder died of morphine overdose

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 03, 2014

  • Jane Henderson with the Duchess of Cornwall

  • Jane Henderson

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The wife of Shelterbox founder Tom Henderson died of a morphine overdose the day after he was sacked, an inquest has heard.

Jane Henderson died of at her home in Helston on August 3, 2012.

Her husband Tom, who started the Helston-based disaster aid charity, was sacked for gross misconduct the previous day. He had run the organisation for 12 years as chief executive.

An inquest in Truro heard today that Mr Henderson called the ambulance after discovering his wife motionless in their bedroom.

A rapid response unit and ambulance pronounced Mrs Henderson dead at the scene.

The inquest heard how Mrs Henderson had previously been administered morphine for a medical condition back in 2004, but had not accessed any since.

The coroner, Dr Emma Carlyon, said: “Mrs Henderson was found dead on August 3, 2012, and was last known to be alive at her home earlier that afternoon.

“She was upset with the changes of working conditions for her husband Tom and died of an acute morphine overdose administered a short time before her death.”

The inquest was unable to determine the source from which Mrs Henderson obtained the morphine or how she administered it.

The coroner recorded an open verdict into the death of Mrs Henderson.

ShelterBox delivers survival equipment in large green boxes to disaster areas around the world, such as Syria and the Philippines.

Mr Henderson was removed from the organisation after 12 years as chief executive in 2012.

A dispute had arisen around the circumstances of a £650,000 order to a business which was believed to involve his son John.

Mr Henderson failed to explain the potential conflict of interest and the charity took action to have him removed.

In August, 2012, he was sacked as chief executive of the charity for gross misconduct. The unanimous decision was taken by the charity’s board of trustees.

In an interview in November 2012, Mr Henderson said he had made a solemn promise to his wife to clear his name.

The former Royal Navy diver has always said the controversial order had never been placed.

In a statement following the inquest, a spokesman for ShelterBox said: “The Coroner, Dr Emma Carlyon, has today recorded an open verdict at the inquest into the death of Jane Henderson.

"Jane was a great friend to ShelterBox, and staff and supporters have fond memories of working with her. “They will all wish to extend their deepest sympathies to those who knew her.”

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  • kernow19  |  April 03 2014, 6:13PM

    One hopes the Trustees of the Shelterbox Appeal are proud of themselves.

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