Missing doctor’s body found

Body washed up  on the beach near Hastings lifeboat station. 2/8/12

Body washed up on the beach near Hastings lifeboat station. 2/8/12

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A BODY washed up on a Hastings beach is believed to be a doctor who went missing following a diving accident last month.

Dr Judy Beard, also known as Judy Belcher, fell overboard and disappeared whilst diving with friends off the Eastbourne coast on July 11.

Dr Beard, who lived in Denbigh Road in Hooe, was a consultant haematologist and lead cancer clinician and worked at both the Conquest Hospital in Hastings and the Eastbourne District General Hospital.

The 52-year-old was also a trustee at St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards and chair of the Hastings Sub-Aqua Club.

The body, which was wearing diving clothing and equipment, was discovered near the Lifeboat Station at 9.10am yesterday (Thursday).

Dr Beard’s family have been informed about the discovery.

A Sussex Police spokesperson said: “At 9.10am on Thursday August 2, police went to the beach at the west side of the harbour arm at Hastings, after a body had been found.

“The body is that of an adult woman, wearing diving clothing and equipment, and it had evidently been washed ashore by the tide.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious and whilst formal identification has not yet taken place, we believe we know her identity.

“The family are being informed and the Coroners Officer will be continuing enquiries.”

Lifeboat crews from Eastbourne and Hastings and the Coastguard rescue helicopter carried out a frantic eight-hour search when Dr Beard was first reported missing.

But despite a thorough search, the operation was called off due to the failing light.

An inquest into Dr Beard’s death will be held in due course.