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24th March 2017 b
By Sam Allen
A FORMER assistant director of the National Trust took his own life at home after he was left shaken following a dispute with his new employer at the ancestral home of the Marquess of Bute.
Adam Ellis-Jones, 47, committed suicide a month after taking a settlement and leaving his post as heritage manager of Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute after the incident, an inquest has heard.
He had joined the mansion, a major visitor attraction, in March 2015 from the National Trust in Wales where he had responsibility for historic buildings including castles.
“The experience left him shaken,” his partner Joanna Cartwright said. “The fact he had lost his home was a major issue for him.”
Ms Cartwright added Mr Ellis-Jones had tried to take his own life before his marriage broke down and the inquest heard his first suicide attempt was when he was 15.
Before his death in December 2016 Ms Cartwright spent time at his home in Henley-on-Thames but left to work in Sussex. Eventually she became concerned about him after an unusual phone call.
“He was feeling negative and lonely and sounded like he had been drinking,” she said. “He sounded different and not like himself.”
She went to the house to check on him, where she discovered him after the suicide. She dialled 999 but paramedics pronounced his death on arrival.
Mr Ellis-Jones had struggled with mental health issues for which he took anti-depressants and was in regular contact with clinical psychologist Dr Katherine Ferdenzi.
She told in the inquest in Oxford: “Sadly he started to struggle with a relationship with his boss. He said there was a dramatic end to his work in Bute. Despite the challenges he was facing he appeared to be doing well.”
The psychologist spoke to him over the phone on December 19, the day before his death, but did not notice anything untoward.
“He had an interview for a job he felt would suit him very well for an interim position,” she said.
“He showed no intent to end his life during this call. In my opinion he decided to end his life on impulse and did not plan it. I don’t think anyone could have known.”
In his conclusions, coroner Mr Salter said that he showed some evidence of suicidal thought.
He added: “However, his own therapist didn’t pick up any signs the day before and thought it was very much an impulsive act and that’s what it seems like it was.”
However his own therapist didn’t pick up any signs the day before and thought it was very much an impulsive act and that’s what it seems like it was.
“He was 47-years-old, a heritage manager and he was found deceased on December 20 with a medical cause of death as hanging.
“I’m satisfied on the evidence available to me that on December 20, 2016, Adam hanged himself.”
Ellis-Jones hanged himself from a bannister at his home address.”
Mr Ellis-Jones’s appointment was hailed by Mount Stuart as a major coup.
Speaking in February 2015, director Stephen Jenkins said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Adam’s skills and expertise are now going to be devoted to the continued development of Mount Stuart.”
Later that year, at a tourism conference in Oban, Argyll, Mr Ellis-Jones told an audience of his ambitions for the property saying: “I am very much of the view that the country house visit in current form is dead. What are we doing to do with it? My first reaction is to have some fun with it.”
He said when he joined, Mount Stuart had been a “reactive” organisation, which he had to “do visitors.” He then set out to the audience how it was run by an educational charity which aimed to put people in touch with it should aim to be about “art, land and nature”.
Mr Ellis-Jones said that when he told former colleagues he was leaving for Mount Stuart, the reaction had been: “Where?” He added: “I want to move the place on. What I discovered was an amazing house that was pretty unremarkable to visit – a really inspiring collection that was really hidden.”
The coroner recorded a conclusion of suicide.