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Tributes to much-loved paramedic Samantha Lipman, 32, from Hawkinge

Devastated friends and family have paid heartbreaking tributes to a "loving and caring" paramedic following her tragic death.

Samantha Lipman was found dead at her home in Hawkinge, near Folkestone, by emergency service colleagues after she failed to appear at work.

Samantha Lipman was found dead at her home in Hawkinge
Samantha Lipman was found dead at her home in Hawkinge

Mum Gina told KentOnline her daughter was "the most loving and caring person you could hope to meet".

"Sam was almost too empathetic in her own way, and she had a way of lighting up a room when she came in. She brought warmth where there was cold," she said.

"She filled her life with so many amazing tasks and missions, all of which were aimed at helping others – and yet she found time to help all of her friends and those closest to her."

As well as working full-time as a paramedic, the 32-year-old was also a trained coastguard and wildlife campaigner, having obtained a degree in zoology.

"She always loved animals from a very young age, and aged about 10 we took her to Seaworld in America where she fell in love with orcas," Mrs Lipman said.

The paramedic, 32, was a great animal lover
The paramedic, 32, was a great animal lover

"From then on she called herself an 'orcaholic', and ironically as an adult she started campaigning against Seaworld!"

After going to work at an ambulance call centre for a temporary job, Sam was taken on a day's training in an ambulance - and was immediately inspired to work there full-time.

"I remember that she came home that day and said she wanted to train to be a paramedic - and that was it, she went for it," Mrs Lipman added.

"She said 'mum, the animals have had me long enough, the humans need me now!'"

While working to get her degree and to train, Sam continued to volunteer with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), and run the website orcaaware.org, which she founded.

"I don't know where she found the time but she was brilliant at everything she did..."

She also qualified to be a coastguard last year, wrote poetry, sang – and even appeared as an extra in Eastenders, holding a door open for Jack Branning at a hospital.

"I don't know where she found the time but she was brilliant at everything she did," her mum added.

During her 15 years volunteering with the BDMLR, Sam rose to be area coordinator for the Thames area. The group has set up a fundraiser for equipment in her memory, and pledged to dedicate pontoons on the estuary to her.

An inquest at County Hall in Maidstone yesterday heard that Sam had been battling mental health issues for a decade or more.

She had been due at work at 6.15am on November 26, 2022. When she did not appear, her supervisor and another colleague conducted a welfare check at her home in Lewis Road where they tragically discovered her body.

Kerri Johnson (right) had known Sam since joining the ambulance service
Kerri Johnson (right) had known Sam since joining the ambulance service

Area coroner Katrina Hepburn ruled her death as a suicide.

"On behalf of myself and everyone here at the coroner's service, I would like to pass on my most sincere condolences to Sam's family and friends," she said.

Mrs Shipman added that her daughter had worked to overcome her mental health issues and had been in the "best form of her life".

" She had a huge understanding of mental health, not only because she had personal experience, but through a lot of research she'd done, especially whilst working at the Wellbeing hub, which culminated in her writing an 11 page article on mental health and wellbeing," she said.

Trainee paramedic Kerri Johnson, who met Sam on her first day of training, said the two had been "friends for life".

Sam and her sister Jenny (62277432)
Sam and her sister Jenny (62277432)
Sam was described as "loving and caring"
Sam was described as "loving and caring"

"It's impossible to sum up Sam in just one word, but the closest word would be 'unstoppable'," she said.

"We just clicked the minute we met and she has mentored me through the last two-and-a-half years of training. That first time getting in an ambulance was very daunting but she made it 10 times better, and she really had that charm, charisma and empathy that you need in this job.

"It really brought out the best in her - you could see her compassion in every moment

"We were not related but we are sisters, not by blood but by bond. I would trust her with my life."

Sam's family say they have been flooded with tributes and well wishes, and have set up a fundraiser for a bench in her memory.

"The number of people who wrote to all of us talking about how much she had helped them really speaks to the kind of person she was," Ms Johnson said.

"I know one of her friends is dedicating her upcoming thesis on humpback whales and dolphins to her, and Atlantic Pacific – where she attended a lifesaving course in 2019 – are running a scholarship in her name this year so someone can learn those skills for free in memory of her."

Mrs Lipman added: "When the BDMLR hold a dedication ceremony for the pontoons they are naming after her, the fire brigade and river police are also attending as she made such an impression on them during training.

"I also received copies of cards that she had been sent when she worked at a wellbeing hub on secondment last year – so many people saying she helped them through the tough times."

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For confidential support on an emotional issue, you can click here to visit the Samaritans website.

You can also call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.

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