Belfast Telegraph

Co Down pensioner froze to death in home

Town left in shock after elderly woman dies in ‘eat or heat’ tragedy

A 73-year-old Northern Ireland woman found dead in her home died from hypothermia in what has been described as an “eat or heat” tragedy.

Noreeen Troupe’s body was discovered on Friday night in her High Street home, in Portaferry.

She may have lain undiscovered in the house for several days before concerned neighbours raised the alarm.

Ms Troupe had lived alone in the same Housing Executive house for nearly 30 years and was very well known in the town.

A preliminary post mortem examination determined the cause of death to be hypothermia.

A 66-year-old man was unconditionally released from custody.

It is believed Ms Troupe suffered a fall before Christmas, which had left her housebound. This may have contributed to her demise. Neighbours and friends were frequently leaving food parcels at her door.

But, she was known to be a very private person and didn’t bring people into her home very often.

Local councillor Joe Boyle who knew Ms Troupe well, said news of the cause of death has shocked the whole community.

He described Ms Troupe’s case as an “eat or heat” tragedy.

He said: “It is an alarming |situation when elderly people are dying in their homes of hypothermia. Questions need to be asked urgently.”

Ms Troupe would leave her home every day in what was believed to be a routine to help stay warm.

Mr Boyle added: “When I reflect on this, I feel Noreen decided to leave her house every day as part of her routine so that she could be warm.

“She could be seen around the town several times a day.

“She would go into cafes where she knew she would get a warm bowl of soup and could sit and read the papers in the heat.

“I think she was out and about so much because she was trying to stay warm.”

Anne O’Reilly, AgeNI chief executive, said: “Sadly, I am not surprised this happened. I think this has been an unfortunate set of circumstances. It is not unusual for people of this age to be very proud.

“They don’t find it easy to seek for help and this case demonstrates this.

“This lady perfectly fits the profile of the age group and gender AgeNI is most concerned about.

“Something needs to be done to make sure that vulnerable people get access to the benefits they are entitled to.”

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