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PR manager, 44, was granted leave of absence during pandemic and hanged herself after husband filed for divorce

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An ambitious mother of two who was afraid of being alone after her husband filed for divorce during the pandemic was found hanged in an outbuilding of a farm, a court investigation revealed today.

Public relations manager Elizabeth McKenzie, 44, was sent into a ‘downward spiral’ after being put on furlough when the coronavirus pandemic hit, a coroner was told.

Before that, she had had a prestigious career, including leading an event for the Royal Opera Gala in 2005, attended by Prince Charles.

On May 21 of this year, she went to stay with her aunt after discovering that her account manager partner Alex, who had been with her for 20 years, was seeking a divorce.

Her body was discovered two weeks later and her cause of death was confirmed as pending, the inquest heard.

Public relations manager Elizabeth McKenzie, 44, was put on leave when the coronavirus pandemic hit, sending the mother of two into a “downward spiral,” a court inquiry heard.

Just a week before her death, she visited her psychotherapist Rufus Harrington, who told the coroner, “It was clear she was struggling with the approaching end of her marriage.”

Similarly, during a talk about therapies, Elizabeth had said she was “severely depressed” related to fear of being alone and relationship problems.

Proud Aunt Eileen Cartledge described Elizabeth as an outgoing, positive and energetic woman who always looked on the bright side.

She added: “The past year had been terrible for her. Due to the pandemic, she was given leave and her marriage was in trouble, they were about to get divorced.

“On the morning of her death, she told me that she was not well. She crawled into the fetal position on the couch and when I came back into the room she was gone.’

The inquest found that three hours after she went missing, her aunt called Elizabeth’s husband and then called 999 with “no other option” to report Elizabeth missing.

Her body was discovered in the early hours of June 4 in a farm outbuilding at Mill Cottage, Marcham, Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

A small suicide note was left in the back of her phone case apologizing to her father Phillip Holland, stepmother Patricia and husband Alex for taking her own life.

Her father added: “Elizabeth was a dazzling butterfly, a free spirit, she was the most loving, kind soul, but she flew too close to the sun.”

Today the Oxfordshire coroner learned how Elizabeth was found dead just 10 days before the anniversary of her mother’s death, who died when she was just 16.

The couple met her husband Alex in 2001, married in 2008 and lived in Derbyshire with their two sons, after starting a barn conversion before her tragic death.

In a statement today, Alex said: “Our marriage started to deteriorate and the divorce proceedings had begun.

“Elizabeth’s mental health had been a problem for some time, much of it because she didn’t seek help when she needed it.”

The last time Alex heard from his wife was in an email asking if there was any prospect of the marriage continuing, the coroner was told.

Senior coroner Darren Salter concluded a suicide sentence in Oxford court.

After discovering that her account manager partner Alex, who had been with her for 20 years, wanted a divorce, Elizabeth went to stay with her aunt on May 21.  Her body was discovered in the early hours of June 4 this year and her cause of death was confirmed as pending, the inquest heard

After discovering that her account manager partner Alex, who had been with her for 20 years, wanted a divorce, Elizabeth went to stay with her aunt on May 21. Her body was discovered in the early hours of June 4 this year and her cause of death was confirmed as pending, the inquest heard

Following her tragic death, there was an outburst of love for the 44-year-old who had worked for nearly two decades at Buxton Opera House, the University of Derby and the Buxton International Festival.

More recently she was involved with the Buxton Spa Prize, hosted Pump Room Live, worked with the Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust and was also the Development, Events and PR Manager for the Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust.

Jennifer Spencer, chair of trustees at the Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust, paid tribute to the mother of two.

She said: “Liz was a great asset and has been involved in the revitalization of the Crescent for many years.

“She gave her heart and soul to the project and was an important part of the project team, attracting a lot of money, sponsorship and partnerships.”

From 2002 to 2006, Liz worked for the High Peak Theater Trust, which owns and manages Buxton Opera House.

Emma Oakes of Buxton Opera House recalls her work: ‘Her performances have been many, but highlights included event management for the prestigious Royal Opera Gala in 2005, attended by Prince Charles and the soon-to-be Duchess of Cornwall.

“Liz had great community connections and was instrumental in developing our Cavendish Business Club as a way for companies to support the Opera House.”

Gina Bradbury Fox of The Outdoor Guide has known Liz for over a decade.

Recalling her friend and colleague at work, she added, “From the moment I met Liz over a decade ago, I knew she was a woman after my own heart and a force to be reckoned with.

“More recently, we had begun planning some post-Covid adventures that would have further strengthened our friendship and working relationship.

‘She was an integral part of The Outdoor Guide Foundation, developing a project with her beloved Peak District National Park. We have collectively lost someone who was a genuinely sweet person who still had so much to give and we will miss her.’

For confidential support, call the Samaritans at 116123 or visit a local Samaritans office, see www.samaritans.org for details.

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