Shropshire Star

Ex-councillor and loved community volunteer killed himself after last cup of tea - inquest

A "gentle, reflective and thoughtful" former councillor killed himself after enjoying one last cup of tea in bed, an inquest heard.

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Robert Toft

Retired civil servant Robert Peter Toft briefly served on Much Wenlock Town Council in 2017 before he and two other councillors resigned amid an allegation that procedures had not been followed.

Mr Toft had been very active in the local community but an inquest held in Shrewsbury on Tuesday heard that he had a history of depression.

His widow, Cherril Wilson Toft, told the Shropshire Star that her husband had been a gentle man who was completely committed to public service and worked very hard in the local community. He was also a supporter of causes including the Jo Cox charity following the murder of the Labour MP in 2016.

The inquest at Shirehall in Shrewsbury was told that 68-year-old Mr Toft had a cup of tea in bed on June 27 but he told his wife that he was tired and would stay in bed.

She got up and went to do some gardening.

"After a while she shouted up asking him whether he wanted another cup of tea," said senior Shropshire & Telford Coroner John Ellery.

But there was only silence in return, so a search started and he was eventually found in the garage at the couple's Much Wenlock home.

The inquest was told that the cause of death had been hanging. A post mortem was carried out but it identified nothing in his system that would have contributed to his death.

Mr Ellery said the purpose of the inquest was to determine the how and not the why of someone's death.

And he said from the circumstances he was satisfied that Mr Toft did the act himself.

"I am satisfied that his death was due to suicide," he said. He recorded a conclusion of suicide.

Mrs Wilson Toft said she would like to thank the paramedics who did all they could at the scene, and Mr Ellery said the names had been published in the background papers.

She added that her husband's issues with depression should have been picked up by his doctors and hoped this could be changed for future cases.

But Mr Ellery advised her to contact them direct to talk to them about any concerns but it was not something he could comment on as they were not present to answer questions.

In a tribute notice in the Shropshire Star in the summer Mr Toft was described as a very much loved husband to Cherril, a deeply loved son of Beryl and the late Peter, and brother to Tim and Paul and brother-in-law to Michelle and Marinela, as well as being nephew to John.

"Robert was a gentle, reflective and thoughtful man," the tribute read.

"He was an active member of the community and much valued for his extensive contributions.

"He will be acutely missed."

His funeral took place at Holy Trinity Church, Much Wenlock on July 17. Donations were invited for Samaritans.

Whatever you're going through, you can call Samaritans any time, from any phone for FREE on 116 123.

Sometimes writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you understand them better, say Samaritans who can be emailed at But responses may take several days.

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