‘She was the nicest, kindest person you’ve ever met’
Partner devastated by death of his pregnant girlfriend:
A HEARTBROKEN man has described the moment he learned his pregnant girlfriend had killed herself.
Talented sportswoman Imogen Evans, who had represented Wales in both netball and rowing, was found dead at the home she shared with Michael Stokes earlier this year.
At the time she was six weeks’ pregnant by Michael and the couple were planning to buy a house.
But Michael’s world was shattered when, on one otherwise unremarkable morning in June, police arrived at the office where he works to tell him his beloved partner had taken her own life.
Last month an inquest into her death heard Imogen had battled mental health issues and lived with bulimia for most of her life.
But Michael, speaking at the home the couple shared, said he never imagined he would be given the devastating news Imogen had taken her own life.
Imogen, 28, was a solicitor and she had planned to buy a home with Michael before her tragic death.
At the home they shared lies a memory book Imogen made for Michael last Christmas.
Stored safely in a box, it has lain untouched for months as Michael has not been able to face looking at it since he was given the heartbreaking news that Imogen was gone.
It shows everything from pictures of nights out to celebrations to pieces of the flowers that were the first Michael had ever bought for Imogen.
“I haven’t opened it – I can’t,” he said. “When I blank [what happened] out I do OK – when I’m focusing on work and my family and my friends.
“But I woke up on Tuesday and, as I got into the car, it popped up – a memory from a year ago and it was when we added each other on Facebook.
“That was a tough day. I wasn’t very good company in work that day.”
Michael, 38, met Imogen around a year ago on the dating app Tinder.
“We started speaking on the Tuesday and three days later she messaged me and said, ‘Do you fancy the most random first date ever? I’ve got a spare ticket for the Wales v New Zealand game.’”
Describing that date, during last year’s autumn series, he said: “I didn’t watch one minute of the game. We just spoke the whole way through it. We got on unbelievably. The first night, at the rugby, was the best night of my life.”
Imogen moved to Hirwaun to live with Michael six weeks later.
He said: “We were literally inseperable. I know six weeks sounds crazy fast but it just felt natural. It just happened.”
Michael said Imogen had been very honest with him about her mental health from the beginning. She told him she’d had “a breakdown in work” but had recovered. Despite this, she continued to struggle with bulimia.
“When we first met she didn’t like being on her own. She suffered with bulimia when she was on her own and she’d panic. And I think that’s probably why she wanted to spend so much time with me. She didn’t like being on her own.”
Michael, who works in sales, said: “The one thing she called me was her balloon. She said her therapist told her she would cling to somebody or something and it would be her balloon which would keep her afloat.”
The inquest revealed her diaries contained suicidal thoughts and details of her struggles with bulimia, anxiety and depression.
Michael said: “What she said was she found it comforting to know that if she did die, the pain wouldn’t be there any more. And I said, ‘Do you actually think you’d think about it?’
“And she said, ‘No, I’d never consider doing it. I just find it comforting that the pain isn’t for ever.’ The way she explained it, she convinced me it was sensible the way she was thinking it.
“I can’t think how she convinced me of that, to be honest.”
The couple had a lot to look forward to in life.
“We were buying a house, she was pregnant – I never would have thought for a second [her death] was anything that would have occurred,” Michael said.
Recalling the day they found out she
was pregnant, Michael said: “She came out of the bathroom and she looked quite shocked.
“She said, ‘I’ve got something to tell you but I don’t want you to bicker with me.’
“She just pulled out the pregnancy test and I couldn’t believe it. We were delighted at the news. She cried.”
Michael said June 22 this year had been an entirely normal day until his world came crashing down.
Imogen had decided to work from home at the time because Ed Sheeran was playing a concert in Cardiff and she didn’t want to get stuck in any train disruption. Michael later messaged Imogen informing her he’d arrived at work safely, but as the day went on she stopped replying to his messages.
He said: “It wasn’t that far out of the ordinary because if she got that focused into her work she would be on form for hours at a time, so I just assumed she was busy. Then later on in the afternoon the police turned up.”
Police officers arrived at Michael’s office to tell him the awful news that Imogen had been found dead at the home they shared.
Her mother, Susan Evans, discovered her daughter’s body just hours after receiving a message from Imogen which said: “I will remove myself from the face of the Earth.”
At the inquest it was heard she had argued with her mother prior to the incident.
Recounting the moment he was told of Imogen’s death, Michael said: “It just shocked me. I actually threw up. I just felt completely numb.”
Since June Michael admitted he’s found it hard to cope. He’s spent the past few months trying to block things out to get by.
“I have been really lucky. I have a really good network of support from my family and friends. They have all rallied together for me.”
But even though Imogen struggled with many issues throughout her short life, it was her endearing and caring personality that made Michael fall in love with her.
When Michael talks about his memories, he smiles fondly and it’s clear they shared a strong connection from the very beginning.
He speaks of her with emotion, tenderness, and – most of all – love.
Michael said: “She was the nicest, kindest person you’ve ever met. And it wasn’t just me – it was when she spoke to anybody. When you’d have a conversation with her you’d never forget it.
“Imogen genuinely was unbelievable and everyone who I know who knows her has said the same.
“She was the life and soul of the party. Her smile was so infectious. If ever I was even slightly down, she’d pick me up. She would always give me that inspirational talk. She would just always say the right things.”
At the inquest, Coroner Andrew Barkley recorded a conclusion of suicide.
Mike Stokes with Imogen
Imogen Evans had battled with bulimia