Tributes have been paid to a former chef and Swindon College lecturer who had a passion for food, motorbikes, and his family.

An inquest held at Swindon and Wiltshire Coroners Court on Monday recorded the circumstances of the death of 63-year-old Ricky David Ellery.

The father-of-three was born in Bristol and grew up there before becoming a chef at the Swindon branch of the Crest Hotel, then passed on his culinary experience to students as a hospitality and catering lecturer for several years, and went on to work at the Honda manufacturing plant’s production line and kitchen until the South Marston site closed in 2021.

At Swindon College, he inspired a generation of young chefs and met the woman with whom he would spend his final years.

In 2008, two catering students became the first-ever from the further education facility to be selected for some of the 12 available spaces on a year-long work placement by The Big Cedar Lodge holiday resort in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, USA - then four more were selected for another placement in 2013.

Paying tribute to Ricky, his partner Janice said in a statement at the inquest: “He had a happy childhood, inherited a love of motorbikes from his dad, and had a good relationship with his sister.

“He loved food, developed an interest in catering, and completed a degree in teaching.

“He was always full of fun and cracking jokes... [and] a very sensitive person, not always confident in his ability.

"He loved his family, cars, motorbikes, and going to the cinema, museums, theatre, and new places.

“He was at his best when he was in the kitchen with me and with his children. He found a safe haven in our relationship and was happy in the last few years."

Ricky lived with Janice in Chiseldon and had recently been dealing with some personal difficulties that affected his mental health.

She noticed a change in his mood during the last few months of his life but, on the morning of June 12, 2023, there was nothing out of the ordinary to suggest what would happen later on.

That evening, after realising he had cancelled his Paypal account and phone contract, she returned home from work and noticed his car on the drive but could not find him in the house.

Janice raised a concern for her partner's welfare with the police, the inquest heard, and then found him in the garage, where he was pronounced dead by paramedics.

The inquest heard that Mr Ellery found his teaching job stressful, often worrying about lesson plans and making sure everything was just right, which impacted his mental wellbeing to such an extent that he resigned in 2016 to focus on his health.

After that, his anxiety symptoms reportedly lessened.

A severe back injury sustained during his last job at a furniture warehouse led to a trip to the hospital and another downturn in his mental health, which worsened following the loss of a loved one.

Senior coroner David Ridley recorded that this bereavement exacerbated Mr Ellery’s depression and anxiety, noted the cause of death as suicide, and expressed his condolences to Mr Ellery’s loved ones.

His partner’s statement added: “He was very good at hiding his feelings, especially his mental health. No-one saw this coming. He kept those thoughts to himself.”

If you are struggling with your mental health and would like someone to listen without judgement, call the Samaritans’ 24/7 helpline on 116 123 or find other helpful resources on the website