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Beach victim's lonely life

By Amy McGillivray

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The house where Allan Jenkins lived in Pitau Rd.
The house where Allan Jenkins lived in Pitau Rd.

Allan Jenkins lived a lonely life, according to neighbours.

At the age of 81, he lived alone in the single-storey red-brick home where his parents once lived on Pitau Rd.

He never married. He didn't have children. He didn't have friends. No one visited.

And Allan Jenkins died alone.

His body was found washed up on Pilot Bay beach on Thursday. His car was found parked near Salisbury Wharf and police are not treating his death as suspicious.

As the police investigation into his death continues, neighbours spoken to by the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend paint a picture of a solitary man who kept to himself.

"He never had any friends. No one came to visit him," neighbour Graeme Wannop said. "He was a bit of a loner. He did his own thing. He stayed to himself."

Even so he was always a friendly neighbour, Mr Wannop said.

"He was a man of few words but he spoke to you. My wife died and he came over and offered his condolences," he said.

"When I was an electrician he'd ring up when something went bung and I'd go and fix it and have a sherry with him."

At 81 Mr Jenkins tried to keep up with the trends. He wore fashionable shorts and sported a grey goatee, Mr Wannop said. He had a hip replacement which left him with a slight limp. Mr Jenkins was a strong swimmer and but worried neighbours with his habit of going to the beach for a dip every night about 7pm when there was no one else around.

His lights were on every night when neighbour Beverley Michael went to bed but for the past two nights the home has been in darkness.

"It was quite sad."

She described him as a pleasant chap who "loved his little house", always kept his home and the garden neat and often went out in his car.

He often visited a couple who lived across the street but they had recently moved to Scotland, she said.

Another neighbour, who refused to be named, said he was a nice man who would always chat to passing neighbours.

"He was a pretty astute man. He totally didn't look 81. He'd walk down to the market every week and stuff like that."

Neighbours who knew Mr Jenkins were already planning to hold a memorial service for him, she said.

"We don't want anybody to be lonely and not have a bit of a send-off."

Mr Wannop said his neighbour used to travel with a music group but the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend has not been able to verify this.

Sixteenth Ave Theatre president Alan Baker said Mr Jenkins was a financial member until last year but was not known by other members and did not appear to have auditioned or performed with the group.

Detective Sergeant Nigel Grey said the cause of death was unexplained and a post-mortem examination was being carried out.

Age Concern Tauranga chairwoman Angela Scott said it was a shock to think Mr Jenkins could have been so solitary.

"We are certainly very concerned, especially with our awareness week coming up when the theme is 'no one should be lonely'," she said.

"It's a case of knowing your neighbours these days but that does not really happen so much anymore.

"People are busy these days, sometimes we don't know who our neighbours are."

Earlier this week the Bay of Plenty Times reported that Age Concern Tauranga has been overwhelmed with demand from elderly for its Accredited Visiting Service, which offers matched volunteer visits for people living alone.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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