Exam Girl, 15, Found Dead in Bed
Wednesday, 21st April, 1976
Only a few weeks before completing her CSE exams, 15-year-old Heather Orr (pictured below with her boyfriend in Skegness) of 13 Algitha Road, Skegness, was found dead in bed by her family on Wednesday.
The police said that items found in the bedroom had been sent for forensic investigation, but no crime was suspected.
On Monday, Heather’s mother, Mrs June Orr, said that Heather, a pupil at Skegness Morris Secondary School, had been looking forward to going to nursing college, or the Grammar School, when she left school after Whitsun.
“Heather had always wanted to be a nurse,” said Mrs Orr. “She had been studying to get eight CSEs, and was doing what she wanted to do.”
Since moving to Skegness from Canada five years ago, Heather had been a regular member of the Algitha Road Methodist Church.
As a member of the Sunday School there she was the Festival Queen three years ago, when her 14-year-old sister, Julie, was the purse-bearer.
Until a year ago she was a member of St Matthew’s Girl Guides. She had taken tests for most of her badges, and took part in many activities such as camping.
At school, she was a House captain, and a keen sports enthusiast. She had won several prizes for running, and also played hockey and netball.
Dancing was among her other interests, and she was a member of the Briar Way Youth Club. She also had a Saturday job at Woolworths in Skegness.
Her father, Robert Orr is an electrical contractor, and her mother helps in the office. Apart from her sister, she had two elder brothers, Alan, aged 19, and Robin, aged 18.
Alan is in the Royal Navy, and Robin a trainee manager at Woolworths in Lincoln.
Heather’s grandfather, Leonard Brown, has lived with the family since last May when he retired.
An inquest will be held at Skegness on Wednesday.
The funeral service takes place on Friday at the Salvation Army Citadel, followed by interment at St Clement’s Churchyard, Skegness.
Exam Failure Fear Girl Took Life
End of April, 1976
A suicide note to her parents predicting failure in her exams was found under the pillow of a 15-year-old Skegness girl after she died in bed from an overdose of aspirins. Recording a verdict that Heather Orr, of 13 Algitha Road, had killed herself, the coroner, Mr Ian Mitchell-Smith, said: “The true cause must have laid in some deep, unsuspected mental disturbance.”
The inquest was held at Skegness Magistrates’ court on Wednesday. Her father, Mr Robert James Orr, a self-employed electrical contractor, said Heather, who would have been 16 on 12th May, was a quiet, slightly reserved girl who was studying at Morris Secondary School to take her CSE exams.
She was to have attended the Grammar School after Whitsun and taken up a nursing career. Her exam prospects were very good. Whatever she may have though there were no real problems.
On the previous Wednesday she came in at 4.30pm and started cooking a meal for the family. The question of her going to a dance that evening was discussed. Her parents gave her permission to go but wanted her back home by midnight.
Heather said that if she could not stay till the dance ended at 1am she did not want to go.
She phoned her boyfriend to tell him she was not going but he was out. She was “a little moody” but otherwise perfectly all right. Later, her 14-year-old sister, Julie, said Heather wanted to make another phone call, said Mr Orr, and he had a talk with her. She had asked Julie to make the next call to her boyfriend.
It was suggested that if she was not going to the dance she might as well go to bed and the dance was not mentioned again.
Her last words to her parents were: “I’m going to bed now. Good night.”
Mr Orr said he got up at 7.30 next morning and returned home at 11.30. His wife asked him to give Heather a call as she was not down yet.
There was no reply when he knocked and the door was locked. He used the spare key to get in and found Heather in bed apparently dead. Dr Morris was called and confirmed that she was. A note in her writing was found under her pillow.
His wife, Mrs June Elizabeth orr (nee Brown), said she was shown a pill bottle which had been about half full of tablets prescribed for her last October, the thought for migraine, and which had been left in the kitchen cupboard.
Ps William Anderson said the empty bottle was found in the pocket of a coat hanging on a rail in Heather’s room. A forensic examination showed that it had contained Equagesic tablets containing 55% aspirin.
Dr Rober McPherson Cross, consultant pathologist at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, said Heather was a very fit girl with no abnormalities. The cause of her death was asphyxia due to an overdose of aspirin which had caused very gross congestion of the lungs. There was a high aspirin content in her blood and she must have taken nearly 16 capsules.
The coroner read the note, which had been addressed to “Mum and Dad”.
It thanked them for what they had done for her and asked them to forgive her. Then it went on to say: “It alson gets me away from the exams, which I would fail.”
The coroner commented that Heather must have intended to take her own life when she swallowed the tablets but by the morning nothing would have been further from her thoughts.
She had all the tensions and disappointments of any girl of that age and while he was aware of the intensity of such emotions in adolescence, other adolescents had survived them.
“The true cause must have laid in some deep, unsuspected mental disturbance,” he said. “There is no need to search for a rational cause for this irrational act.”
Recording his verdict, Mr Mitchell-Smith offered his sincere condolences to the family.
Picture below: Mr Robert J Orr in a local advertisement for his business.
Picture below: The Orr family residence, 13 Algitha Road, Skegness.
Heather’s headstone in St Clement’s Church, Skegness: