Two pensioners found dead in gardens

A pensioner is feared to have collapsed in her garden and frozen to death, police said today.

Officers discovered the body of Lillian Jenkinson, 80, in her back garden in Workington, Cumbria, at 10.40am yesterday.

The day before an elderly man was also found dead in his garden in Kirby Stephen, also in Cumbria. It is not currently known how long he lay undetected.

Today, detectives said Mrs Jenkinson may have fallen in her garden and spent the night in freezing conditions before she was discovered.

Assistant chief constable Jerry Graham said: "Two elderly people have tragically died in their gardens in the last week and we know they were closely supported by family and neighbours.

"However not everyone has that support. So I would ask everyone to keep an eye out for vulnerable people in their community, particularly those who are elderly and live alone."

Temperatures plunged to well below zero at the start of the week in Cumbria.

The man, whom police have not named, was in his 80s and also lay undetected overnight.

Investigators are examining whether he fell or collapsed because of a medical "episode".

Joan Rodgers, a neighbour who lives on Pinfold Street close to Mrs Jenkinson's home, said she was shocked and saddened by the "awful" death.

She said: "I fell in my living room the other night and I couldn't get up and was lying on the floor all night. At least I was inside.

"I wouldn't have liked to have gone outside.

"Fancy going out in this weather, because it's bad up here.

"I haven't been out since Tuesday."

Mary Beck, 80, a friend and neighbour of the widow, said: "We were all friends and neighbours. She was very quiet.

"I can't remember how long I'd known her for but she was here when I moved into this house - it's decades.

"She was nice, a lovely person.

"At one time, years ago, she would do alterations for people, taking hems up and the like.

"She was a good seamstress."

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, combining Help The Aged and Age Concern, said: "We are greatly saddened to hear of the death of these two people in Cumbria and our thoughts and sympathies go out to their families.

"Tragic incidents like this are a reminder of how important it is to take extra care in these icy and cold conditions. If older people fall they are more susceptible to injury and can often struggle to get back on their feet.

"When there is snow and ice, we would advise people to only go outside in exceptional circumstances. If you do need to go out, be prepared for the conditions, for example wear sturdy shoes with good grips, dress warmly and try to keep to routes that have been salted.

"Good neighbours can make all the difference to the frailer members of society in this cold weather and we would encourage everyone to check on older people locally, particularly those that live alone. By offering to do any shopping, collect medicines or dog walking you could help prevent older people from having to make potentially dangerous trips outside."