Homeless teens volunteer found hanging in churchyard

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A generous and kind Burnley man who worked as a volunteer helping homeless teenagers hanged himself in a Barnoldswick churchyard after failing to overcome his battle with depression.

Mr Richard Foster (41) of Arkwright Street was discovered by a dog walker in St Mary’s cemetery on May 5th this year, an inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court heard.

He was a great problem-solver and would bend over backwards to help other people with their problems, but sadly couldn’t address his own

Emma Foster

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor heard evidence from Mr Foster’s sister Emma Foster who described him as a very interesting person.

Miss Foster told the hearing her brother had left home at 16 and enjoyed outdoor pursuits including canoeing, camping and off-road biking.

She also described him as an animal-lover who had his own gardening business.

Miss Foster added: “Richard had volunteered in helping homeless teenagers and had also been a prison liaison officer.

“He suffered from depression and one of his outlets was reading Bibles and other books looking for answers to very big questions.

“He was a great problem-solver and would bend over backwards to help other people with their problems, but sadly couldn’t address his own.

“I think he found it hard to express what was inside when he couldn’t understand it himself. He didn’t like burdening people.”

Pathologist Dr Richard Prescott, who conducted a post-mortem examination, said toxicology tests had revealed trace amounts of cannabis and a low level of alcohol.

Sharon Howarth from the Mind Matters organisation told the inquest that Mr Foster had self-referred to the group.

The inquest also heard that he had mentioned killing himself to a friend.

Coroner Mr Taylor recorded a conclusion that Mr Foster had taken his own life.

He said: “Mr Foster was suffering from depression and found it difficult to understand. He had sadly sought some help unsuccessfully.”