‘She lived off cold water and biscuits’

Ivy Hawkins and her husband with the MBE in 1978.

Ivy Hawkins and her husband with the MBE in 1978.

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“As soon as we arrived here, we could see a rat playing on the windowsill – it was so awful I couldn’t do anything but laugh.”

The shocking demise of 87-year-old Ivy Hawkins was summed up by grandson Kevin Hughes, who described the scene when he came to his grandmother’s home the week after her body was found on Friday February 27.

Chickenley resident Mrs Hawkins had lived in a council bungalow for the past 15 years but, by the end of her life, her family claims she was living off biscuits and water, with no hot water or electricity.

When Kevin, 42, visited the house the following Wednesday along with Mrs Hawkins’ daughters Susan Hughes, 64, and Christine Cummings, 66, they found a squalid living room full of flies and rat droppings.

The family members, who live in London and Tyneside, said they dealt regularly with social services to get her help, but say nothing was done.

“She was living by candlelight,” said Mrs Hawkins’s daughter Susan. “She had a freezer full of food but didn’t eat it as she could not do anything for herself.

“We told the social services this on numerous occasions and they did nothing. By the end she was living off cold water and biscuits – she was just too proud to ask for help.”

The family’s grief was compounded when they discovered the MBE of Ivy’s late husband, Cpt Richard Vernon Hawkins, had gone missing.

“We want to make an appeal for whoever took the MBE to bring it back,” said Kevin. “My grandmother had nothing here except the MBE – it was her pride and joy.”

Ivy’s body could not be formally identified for more than a week, so decomposed was it when she was found.

“I spoke to her the Saturday before she was found,” said Susan. “She said her cough had got better, but she did not feel well – that was the last time I spoke to her.”

The family also accused Kirklees Council, which took over Mrs Hawkins’ finances a few years ago, of “hoarding” her money after it refused to disclose details of her wealth.

The council sent a retainer in the form of a weekly cheque to Mrs Hawkins.

Kevin said they found nine cheques had been posted to her which remained uncashed. “I feel completely and utterly let down by the council,” he added.

Kirklees’ assistant director for social care and wellbeing for adults, Sue Richards, said: “We are very sorry to hear of the death of Mrs Hawkins and our sympathies go to members of her family.

“We have had contact with Mrs Hawkins during the last months of her life, and have been in touch with her family about the circumstances surrounding her death. We are discussing their concerns with them so we can fully investigate any issues.”

Phone police via 101 with information on the medal.