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Howard Gleave, who had second home in Burnham Market, died after drowning on holiday in Croatia, inquest hears





A 66-year-old died while on a cruise holiday with his wife after becoming unwell and passing out in the ocean.

Howard Gleave lived at Stanley Gardens Road in Teddington, London, but is believed to have split his time between there and a second home in Burnham Market.

He was in the midst of a boat trip with his wife off the coast of Split, Croatia, on September 13 last year when he died.

The inquest of Howard Gleave was heard at Norfolk Coroner’s Court this week
The inquest of Howard Gleave was heard at Norfolk Coroner’s Court this week

An inquest at Norfolk Coroner’s Court on Monday heard that the couple, along with others on the ship, had been enjoying a daily swim when Mr Gleave said he did not feel well.

He swam past his wife, Judith, and grabbed hold of the vessel’s anchor for support, but soon slipped down and his head dipped below the water’s surface.

When Mrs Gleave and two other swimmers reached him, he was unconscious and foam was streaming from his mouth. A statement from Mrs Gleave read to the court said that, as far as she was aware, her husband never regained consciousness.

Just hours before, the couple had ventured onto the shore to enjoy a coffee and take photographs.

The ship’s captain, as well as two other crew members, rushed Mr Gleave to the shore in a dingy and initiated CPR. However, he was pronounced dead shortly after being handed over to emergency services.

On Monday, area coroner Yvonne Blake said that his primary cause of death was drowning, with myocardial ischaemia and coronary artery atherosclerosis – both related to the flow of blood through coronary arteries – cited as secondary causes.

She therefore concluded that he died as a result of an accident brought on by natural causes.

Mrs Gleave’s statement said that her husband was “not a stressed person”, although he would get annoyed by “little things”.

He was a retired translator, fluent in French and German, and “keeping fit was a priority for him”.

However, he did have high blood pressure and took a variety of medications to help control it. In his later years, he was no longer able to run, but did walk and cycle regularly.

A statement from Dr Laura Thomas from the Richmond Medical Group in London, where Mr Gleave was a patient for more than 20 years, was read out at the inquest.

She said Mr Gleave had been diagnosed with kidney stones in 2020 and was fitted with a ureteral stent as part of his treatment.

He contacted the practice in July 2023, just months before he died, with concerns about his blood pressure. After tests were carried out, he was referred to a chest pain clinic.

There, he was seen by a cardio specialist in August, with an ECG confirming that everything was “within normal parameters”.

However, Dr Thomas did say the findings were consistent with someone who suffered from hypertension of the heart.

After Mr Gleave moved out of the catchment area for this GP surgery, he was asked to register at a practice closer to his primary home in Norfolk. However, he declined to do so.

Statements from crew members of the MV Riva cruise ship Mr Gleave had been travelling on in Croatia were also read out at the inquest.

They detailed hearing shouts for help from the water, with numerous references made to the “immediate” nature with which the crew responded.

The captain, chef and a deckhand rushed to the ship’s anchor in a dingy, pulling Mr Gleave on board before attempting to revive him. He had been held above the water by his wife and two other swimmers.

After rushing him to the mainland, paramedics took over in an attempt to save his life, but crews admitted they were not sure if he would survive.

Mrs Gleave was supported by others on the ship and provided with a glass of water, and was told to look into her husband’s insurance policy.

However, she was soon told by a doctor at the hospital in Split that he had passed away while being transported there.

One witness provided a statement following Mr Gleave’s death saying he had “seemed fine” when they had spoken to him just five minutes before he became unwell in the water.

The ship captain said Mr Gleave managed to take two breaths while being transported to the mainland, but lost consciousness by the time they reached it.

A post-mortem examination was carried out on September 27 in the UK following the death, revealing Mr Gleave suffered from ischemic heart disease.

On Monday, after her ruling on the cause of his death, coroner Ms Blake offered her condolences to Mr Gleave’s family.



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