Cleared cancer woman killed as she avoided church arson attack

JEAN Allen died taking a diversion away from the arson attack which destroyed St Mary’s Church, March. Her car ended up in a water-filled ditch after she made her way home from hospital to tell her husband doctors had given the all clear after treatment for breast cancer.

Today (Friday) is the inquest into her death but her widower Frank will not be there; it is too painful.

Adding to that pain is the fact that the arsonists responsible for the fire have not been caught.

“I often think that if the fire hadn’t happened then my wife would have been here today,” said Mr Allen.

He is appealing to Cambs Times readers to help police bring the arsonists to justice.


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“That day of the fire changed everything and I hope this may trigger a feeling of guilt in a parent or youth over the feeling of loss that this has caused for me and my family,” he said.

Talking for the first time about the events of March 15, he said: “I don’t want vengeance, I just want justice.

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“If you know or suspect who the culprits are, or if you have any feelings at all for the consequences of what your son or daughter did and you are hiding information, please come forward.

“There is someone out there who knows who did it. This has devastated the lives of me and my whole family.”

Mr Allen, of Fairfax Way, March, revealed that his wife of 44 years was returning from a hospital appointment at Peterborough when her car ended upside down in the ditch on the B1093 Benwick Road, Whittlesey, apparently after overtaking a lorry.

He said: “What makes it all the more heartbreaking is that she had just been given the final all clear from her breast cancer. Emergency services had to pull the car out of the ditch but she was dead. She had very little injury at all, she died from drowning.”

Mrs Allen, 66, was certified dead at the scene and police broke the news to her husband later in the afternoon.

He had to tell his three daughters their mother was dead. His eldest daughter was undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the same time as her mother.

Mr Allen said: “Jean was always a very good and careful driver and I can’t think what would have possessed her to overtake a lorry on a road she did not know.

“It was only later that day when we were on our way back from the morgue that I realised why the traffic had been diverted. I can’t think about it without getting angry, it was a build up of circumstances that have changed out lives for ever.”

Just a few weeks before her death, the couple had returned from a dream holiday. As an avid Elvis fan, Mrs Allen had loved visiting his home at Memphis and also Nashville.

Mr Allen said: “We planned to go back there because Jean loved it so much. We had so much that we had planned to do”.

The couple married in 1964, after being childhood sweethearts in London, and went their separate ways but met again later and knew they were destined to be together.

* No one has yet been charged with �2 million blaze. Three youngsters arrested soon after the arson attack were later freed. The police inquiry is still ongoing.

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