Lympstone bicycle pioneer took his own life — (Exeter Express and Echo)

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Exeter Express and Echo  

Posted: March 07, 2013

By Richard Wevill

A BUSINESSMAN with mounting debts was drinking up to half a bottle of spirits a day in the weeks before he took his life, an inquest heard.

Adam David Houlding, 41, from Lympstone, died at his home last summer.    Mr Houlding had a history of depression and had been prescribed drugs for the condition, the inquest heard.

The hearing was told that there had been some financial problems and Mr Houlding had been drinking heavily.

Mr Houlding was found by his wife Emma hanged in their garden.    His doctor Jane Aitken said Mr Houlding had sought help in April with depressive and anxiety symptoms. He had a history of business failure and increasing debts.

He had a previous period of depression in 1992 when his father died, the inquest heard.    Dr Aitken said she had been concerned that Mr Houlding had an “underlying bipolar disorder”.

He had met with a representative of the Citizens Advice Bureau to discuss debt management.   His wife had been concerned about Mr Houlding’s drinking, the inquest heard, which at its worst point had been around half a bottle of spirits a day.

In a statement was read out at the inquest, Mrs Houlding said the couple had moved to Lympstone in order to pursue a “simpler life”.    Mr Houlding had started a bicycle business but the business had soon encountered difficulties.

In the statement Mrs Houlding said: “I left for work at 11.30 am. I would describe him as in a slightly depressed state but I did not feel he would do anything silly.”

She spoke to her husband once more before starting work.  She returned home at around 5.30pm and found him dead.   “I am still in shock,” she said in her statement.

Exeter and Greater Devon Coroner Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland gave a verdict that the businessman had taken his own life.

Mr Houlding was the founder of fashion and lifestyle brand Rule, which scooped the Best Creative Business Award at the Express & Echo Business Awards in April 2012.

The company set out to create a niche market for the “style bike”, developing a unique way to design and purchase a bespoke bicycle. He developed a website and e-commerce platform allowing users to design their own bike by choosing from millions of designs.

Among its achievements, Rule became the first bike brand on the main British Fashion Council runway at London Fashion Week. Based at Exeter Airport Business Park, the company committed to donate 10 per cent of its pre-tax profits to the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.