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Retired council executive Chris Bamfield washed up on Swedish coast five months after disappearance off Hunstanton, inquest told

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A retired West Norfolk Council executive, who went missing while windsurfing off the borough's coast, was found dead on a Swedish shore five months later.

The family of Chris Bamfield today remembered a "proud public servant" and a "devoted husband, dad and granddad" during an inquest into his death in Norwich.

In a statement which was read to the hearing, his daughter Ashton said: "The day he went missing, and the days that followed, were the worst of our lives."

Chris Bamfield, whose inquest took place today.
Chris Bamfield, whose inquest took place today.

She said the family were "upset" they had not been able to pursue health concerns they raised with him before his death, when he had insisted he was fine, but took comfort in the fact he died doing something he loved.

She said they were "forever grateful" to all those who helped try to find him, adding: "We were so thankful when we were finally able to bring him home to rest.

"We're determined to live our lives to the full as it's what he would have wanted."

A search operation to find Chris Bamfield covered the entire area of the Wash, an inquest heard today.
A search operation to find Chris Bamfield covered the entire area of the Wash, an inquest heard today.

The court was told Chris, a keen windsurfer, had left his home in Middleton on November 14 last year to surf off the coast of Hunstanton.

He was reported missing later that day when he failed to return home. His vehicle was found locked in the car park of the Hunstanton Sailing Club.

A major air and sea search, which eventually covered the entire area of the Wash, then took place. During the operation, his board and sail were recovered more than 20 miles off shore.

However, the operation was called off two days later with no sign of Chris.

The court heard details of his case, including a DNA profile, were subsequently loaded onto a database overseen by the National Crime Agency and information circulated to authorities in several European countries.

On April 21 this year, Interpol officers based in Stockholm reported that a body matching Chris' description had been washed up on the Stoka Koro beach in the Bohuslan region of western Sweden.

The body was confirmed to be that of Chris three weeks later following DNA tests.

An autopsy gave the medical cause of death as drowning, with hardening of the arteries as a secondary factor.

The court was also told that another windsurfer had seen Chris "struggling to get clean air" on his board on the afternoon of his disapperance.

However, it was stressed this did not suggest his safety was at risk at that point.

Norfolk area coroner Yvonne Blake recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

The tragedy happened just a few months after Chris retired as an executive director of West Norfolk Council, following 29 years' service..

Lorraine Gore, the authority's chief executive, said today: “It is almost a year since the tragic loss of our friend and colleague Chris Bamfield, at this time our thoughts are once again with his family.”

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