• Swaffham woman, 100, died after choking on food in café.

    A 100-year-old woman from Swaffham, Norfolk, died after choking on a piece of meat, an inquest has heard.

    Cecilia Cherry, who was a resident at The Paddocks Care Home in Swaffham, died on June 26 at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, having choked on the food earlier that day while at a café with a friend.

    The inquest, held in Lynn this morning, heard that Mrs Cherry had been accompanied by a friend to a routine opticians appointment in the town, before the pair went for lunch.

    While at the café, Mrs Cherry began to choke on a piece of steak, after which a member of the public attempted the Heimlich manoeuvre in a bid to remove the food three times, but these were unsuccessful.

    The inquest was told that after this, the member of the public performed CPR until paramedics arrived on the scene at about 2.25pm, around 15 minutes after the emergency call was made.

    Paramedics cleared her airway, continued with chest compressions and started to “breathe for her”.

    In a statement read to the court, Kim Bridge, head of the Kingfisher Unit at The Paddocks, said she was alerted to what had happened at about 2.30pm.

    After arriving on the scene, she said she spoke to the shop owners and “thanked them for their efforts”.

    She added that at this point, Mrs Cherry was unresponsive.

    In a further witness statement, Dr Robert Florance, a consultant at the QEH, said that after being transported to the hospital, Mrs Cherry remained in a coma, and did not respond to “voice or noxious stimuli”.

    He said: “We took into account Mrs Cherry’s wishes, the wishes expressed previously to her friend and to care home staff, and her clinical condition.

    “We felt there was little to be gained by taking her to intensive care, and felt it should be support care only.”

    Dr Florance said at about 8.30pm, she “suddenly stopped breathing”, and by 8.43pm, it was confirmed that she had died.

    “May she rest in peace,” he added.

    Janice Pittom, manager at The Paddocks, said Mrs Cherry, who was a retired shop assistant, was a “very private lady” who spent “most of her time in her room reading, sleeping and watching television”.

    She added: “Her health was generally very good, and she rarely had the doctor visit.

    “She was very independent, and she only asked for help if she was having one of her tired days.”

    Ms Pittom said Mrs Cherry had not previously suffered from issues with swallowing, and a risk assessment found that she was at low risk of choking.

    Assistant coroner for Norfolk Simon Milburn said: “Perhaps to summarise, it would be correct to say the various assessments confirms the view of the witnesses that this lady remained independent, as far as possible in terms of her general living up until the time of her death.”

    Mr Milburn gave her cause of death as 1A hypoxic cerebral ischaemia, 1B aspiration of food, and 2 old age.

    He added: “It is clear that sadly Mrs Cherry choked while eating food at a café, fell unconscious and as a result suffered the hypoxic injury to her brain.

    “My findings and conclusions are that very sadly indeed, her death was a result of an accident.”