Tributes to former coroner and Freeman of Peterborough

Gordon Ryall
Gordon Ryall

Tributes have been paid to a former Peterborough coroner who was made a Freeman of the city.

Gordon Ryall was the Peterborough coroner for nearly 40 years when he retired aged 70 in 2012. Following his retirement, he was given the freedom of the city for his tireless work.

During his time presiding over inquests in the city, he was known for his caring, sensitive manner, helping families during some of their most difficult times.

Today (Tuesday) following news of his death, Gillian Beasley, chief executive of Peterborough City Council, said: “I knew Gordon both as our coroner and latterly as a Freeman of this City. Gordon was a true professional and an excellent coroner and I can remember how well he handled bereaved families in often tragic circumstances.

“He had an excellent sense of humour and he would often tell stories about the more macabre aspects of his role, but always in an appropriate manner!

“Following his retirement, together with his wife, he strongly supported the civic and other important events as a Freeman of the City. He will be greatly missed and my sincere condolences go to his wife and family.”

Mr Ryall was a solicitor by trade, before being offered the job of deputy coroner in 1971. He took on the full role in 1975.

When he was given the freedom of the city, he was given special praise for the work he did to ensure religious traditions were upheld after death.

Following his retirement, he spoke to The Peterborough Telegraph, where said why the role of a coroner was so important.

He said: “One of the many things I have learned during my time as coroner is that you can never predict how someone will react to a death in the family.

“Some people are affected by the death of a relative because they realise that perhaps they didn’t do as much for them as they could have done.

“You can never presume when someone dies from a long illness that the family will find it any easier. We just have to do whatever we can to help them.

“You have to be understanding and sympathetic to the family but you also need to be detached from the situation so that you can take an impartial view of the circumstances that led to the death of their loved one.

“When people die, wonderful things are said about them. We have more open grief these days and funerals are more of a celebration of their life.”

Funeral details are expected to be announced in the next few days.