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Lawyer who overcame cancer drowned herself in a river after father died from covid-19, inquest hears

A lawyer and mother-of-one threw herself in a river and drowned following the death of her father from covid-19 and the end of her 10-year relationship.  

Jane Macgregor-White, 55, died by drowning as a result of suicide in Guildford, Surrey, on July 8, just two months after the death of her father Ian MacGregor-White from coronavirus, an inquest concluded.

The solicitor had been going through a period of agonising grief following her father's death when her decade-long relationship broke down, leaving her in a state of despair, a coroner heard. 

Ms Macgregor-White, who had overcome breast cancer, had been planning a charity trek up Mount Snowdon in her father's honour before she ended her own life. 

Jane Macgregor-White, 55, died by drowning as a result of suicide in Guildford, Surrey, July 8

In a statement her only son, Philip Bateman, explained to the inquest that the last time he had seen his mother was when they had a picnic together the weekend before her death.

He told the inquest: 'She seemed to be well, she may have been a bit quieter than usual but nothing out of the ordinary.'   

Ms Macgregor-White was said to have been 'seemed to be well' the weekend before her death

The inquest in Woking, Surrey, heard how Mr Bateman was awoken by text messages from his mother's ex-partner, asking if he had checked his emails. After being alerted, Philip found a suicide note from his mother in his inbox.

Mr Bateman said: 'My mother had been found deceased in a river. Her death was a complete shock. I think it was the accumulation of effects, the death of her own father against the background of her most recent relationship break-up, was too much for her to deal with.'

He added: 'Jane had a happy family life until I was aged seven years when she divorced and remarried. Unfortunately, that didn't work out and my mother seemed to carry a lot of guilt for what she thought she had subjected me too. She was often very fearful.

'At the end of 2017 she was diagnosed with breast cancer but she started treatment in time and she was in remission prior to her death. For the past 10 years, she had been with a new partner and this seemed to be a happy relationship.

'Prior to her death, their relationship ended in an amicable way but she found this extremely difficult to deal with and she refused to seek help for what she was going through.'  

Pathologist Olaf Biedrzycki confirmed that Ms Macgregor-White had plunged herself into a river in her home city of Guildford, Surrey, having consumed more than three times the drink drive alcohol limit.

Assistant Surrey coroner, Dr Karen Henderson, concluded that Jane had died from drowning on July 8 this year as a result of suicide.

Dr Henderson said: 'It is clear Jane had a difficult life in many ways, her personal relationships were difficult for a number of years. The ending of her last relationship overwhelmed her to an extent that she felt her only option was to undertake an act and by that act intended to end her own life.'

Ms Macgregor-White (pictured on her travels), who had overcome breast cancer, had been planning a charity trek up Mount Snowdon in her father's honour before she ended her own life

Ms McGregor-White's brother, Jonathan White, a regional manager at Altis Industries, attended the inquest with his wife Michelle.

Following the suicide conclusion, he said: 'We are all gutted that she couldn't come to us, it is such a shame. She was still working as a solicitor during lockdown.

'At our Dad's funeral she was very standoffish. Although only 30 people could be there we were all hugging each other despite the guidelines but Jane would not hug our mother because of Covid. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear she had been planning it for a long time.' 

Ian MacGregor-White died on April 30 this year following a battle with coronavirus. In his memory his daughter Ms McGregor-White was planning to trek up Mount Snowdon to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society, as both her parents suffered from the disease -  she had raised almost £,1400 on a justgiving page.

Before her death, she wrote: 'My lovely, wonderful dad passed away after battling Covid-19 and the underlying health issues he suffered. I am going to do this in his memory, also for my mum who is now facing the challenge of life without her husband, best friend and soulmate.'

The company that she worked for, Morrison's solicitors, wrote after her death: 'Last week we were deeply saddened to learn that our colleague Jane MacGregor-White passed away.

'Jane was a much loved member of our Residential Conveyancing Team in Redhill. She was a thoroughly nice, warm and enthusiastic member of the firm. Everyone who dealt with her found her to be very easy and pleasant to work with and Jane will be greatly missed. She was much appreciated by her clients and we regularly received testimonials to the great work that she had done for her clients.

'She was constantly thinking of others and invested a huge amount of time in helping her colleagues - regardless of their experience or seniority. Having worked at several very good firms and having dealt with many niche areas of law, she was a fantastic source of technical knowledge.

'Jane was just as caring and supportive outside of work as she was inside. She dedicated a huge amount of time to her role at a charity, Surrey 4x4 and she was no stranger to getting stuck in with her passion for Land Rovers. Just last year, Jane also completed a charity walk from the Dead Sea to Petra to raise money for the Fountain Centre.

'Our thoughts and prayers are very much with all those who loved Jane as they seek to cope with a huge shock and great loss.' 

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details. 

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