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Family’s tribute to Stratford man Joe Phipps, 23, after tragic loss, and plan to start foundation to support young vulnerable people

FAMILY and friends have spoken of their heartbreaking loss after the sudden death of much-loved Stratford man Joe Phipps, who was 23.

“Joe is truly loved and missed by everyone, he was a light in all of our lives and truly one of a kind,” said his heartbroken partner, Amy Watson.

There has been an outpouring of grief on social media, including on a Gofundme page set up in Joe’s memory.

Many have spoken of Joe’s incredible warmth, humour and kindness, and how he “put a smile on everyone’s face”.

Joe Phipps
Joe Phipps

After growing up in Stratford and attending the high school, Joe became a mechanic – most recently he worked for Mercedes, and at Gold Cars in Honeybourne.

In his spare time, Joe kept fit and took part in amateur boxing matches for charity.

“Above all Joe was a family man,” said his older sister, Georgia Tranter. “He adored his whole family – his son Harrison, his partner Amy, who was the love of his life, and his stepchildren, Charlie and Riegan, who he cherished.

Joe and Amy
Joe and Amy

“We are a close-knit family: his mum Nadine, dad Andy and stepmum Maxine; myself and his other sister, Abby; his grandparents Janet and Arthur, Mary and Gordon; his aunts and uncles Shayna and Lee, Carol and Andrew; and his cousins Matthew and Beth, Ellie and April (who he loved to wrestle with as kids).

“The list could go on and on, and we are all truly lost and heartbroken without him. There’s a big hole in our lives that only Joe and his big feet and cheesy grin could fill.”

Georgia continued: “I know if he could see the outpouring of love we as a family have already received he would be lost for words. He was truly loved by so many.”

In a poignant post on Facebook, Joe’s partner Amy addressed her love directly.

Joe Phipps
Joe Phipps

“You were such an incredible, funny, gorgeous and loving man, I don’t know how I’m ever going to get over not seeing that face of yours,” she shared heartbreakingly.

“Listening to those stupid noises you made all the time… I miss you so much already. Everyone that had the pleasure of even being in your presence will feel this great loss.

“I will love you forever, my darling boy. I never thought I would find someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, let alone finding a best friend and partner all rolled into one. I can’t believe you have gone, but I have so many incredible memories that I will hold in my heart forever. Thank you for all of those incredible memories baby, and thank you for being mine, my forever.”

Joe with mum and dad, Andy and Nadine.
Joe with mum and dad, Andy and Nadine.

The devastating news that Joe had taken his own life followed a desperate search by loved ones concerned for his welfare after he went missing from his Honeybourne home on Sunday, 17th March.

“Mental health awareness, especially in men, is not spoken enough about,” commented Georgia. “For those who are going through a hard time or have been affected by my brother’s passing, please reach out. To friends, to family, anyone: you’re not alone.” (See below for help.)

The Gofundme page will pay for Joe’s funeral service, with money leftover put into a trust fund for his son Harrison, and into a foundation the family are setting up in Joe’s memory to help other young people. To donate visit ‘In Loving Memory of Joe Phipps’ at www.gofundme.com.

Georgia is aiming to run the Shakespeare Marathon on 21st April in Joe’s name and to raise money for the foundation.

She said: “Joe came all the way to London to see me run a half marathon a couple years ago, so I know he’d love me trying to run a full marathon for him.”

‘My heart goes out to Joe’s family and friends’

Marceena Comber became a volunteer with Papyrus, the charity for prevention of young suicide, after the sad loss of her niece. Here she lends some words of support.

FOLLOWING the sad news of Stratford man Joe Phipps, my heart goes out to his family and friends.

As a bereaved auntie of a niece who ended her own life as the same age as Joe it inevitably stirs up waves of emotion. Knowing that initial shock, the unanswered questions, the tidal wave of sadness and helplessness these are really hard things to process and navigate.

Marceena Comber pictured alongside a photo of her niece Amber Lee Friis and one of her Amber Lee candles. Photo: Mark Williamson M32/5/21/9153A.
Marceena Comber pictured alongside a photo of her niece Amber Lee Friis and one of her Amber Lee candles. Photo: Mark Williamson M32/5/21/9153A.

Amber Lee Friis ended her life during the Covid pandemic which meant me and my family could not fly to New Zealand to say our goodbyes. As a family we knew our lives would never quite be the same, but we could help others in similar situations and try our best to raise awareness that suicide is out there and is, sadly, all around us. As Papyrus points out: ‘Suicide is the main cause of death in young people under the age of 35 in the UK. Over three-quarters of them were boys or young men.’

Papyrus is a charity for the prevention of young suicide, those under 35, and operates a vital phoneline (see right). Alongside this amazing phoneline Papyrus run various training courses nationwide. There are also many volunteering opportunities, I have had the pleasure of going into colleges, workplaces, various fairs and have created Halo fundraising as a platform– championing Papyrus and other local charities in hope that raising awareness and support will be something everyone will have in their armour should they need it.

The journey of grief is never easy, I openly say my heart is broken not only for Amber but also for her mum, dad and sister. I am humbled and proud to be a volunteer for Papyrus.

This April marks four years since we lost our beautiful Amber. In her honour of and the very special Julie Samantha Hunt, who sadly passed away after a short diagnosis of cancer, there is a black tie event on Saturday 13th April celebrating Papyrus and the excellent Shakespeare Hospice.

Raising awareness and funds are so important for these charities to survive. Find out more and book tickets at www.halofundraising.org.uk

WHERE to get help on suicide prevention and support

For immediate risk to life call 999.

For urgent advice call 111 or the NHS Mental Health Access Hubs on 08081 966 798.

Suicide prevention charity Papyrus can be found at www.papyrus-uk.org. Papyrus runs a 24-hour ‘Hopeline247’ on 0800 068 4141. Or text 07860 039967.

Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123 or 0330 094 5717. Alternatively text SHOUT to 85258. For more about Stratford Samaritans, visit www.sam aritans.org/branches/stratford-upon-avon.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Mental Wellbeing Line is available 24/7 on 0800 616171. Further information on local services can be found at www.wellbeingforwarwickshire.org.uk.

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