Book of Faith

PUBLISHED: 10:10 27 June 2008 | UPDATED: 20:43 05 July 2010

A BOOK describing how a Lowestoft father coped with the tragic deaths of his two daughters is to be held up as a beacon of hope by police forces across the country.

A BOOK describing how a Lowestoft father coped with the tragic deaths of his two daughters is to be held up as a beacon of hope by police forces across the country.

Family liaison officers throughout the UK will be able to use copies of A12 to Heaven, penned by Phil Stoddart, with a wish that his extraordinary journey and staunch faith could give some comfort to other families who have lost a loved one.

On Tuesday it is two years since Claire and Jenny were killed in a car accident on the A12 at Blythburgh, and the book is designed to help answer questions that people who are bereaved may have, as well as explain how Mr Stoddart's faith helped him find peace through his dark hours.

His story first came to the attention of Suffolk Police in December when he addressed a meeting of family liaison officers at their headquarters in Martlesham, which was also attended by the detective who investigated the Soham murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells.

Mr Stoddart said: “I think they come across people with all types of grief and sometimes very aggressive victims, but I suppose what they saw in me was very different. They seemed very interested in the story and they stopped me through the talk and asked me lots of questions, which I liked.

“It is one person's description of the journey on which they encounter God through it. People have to go through very difficult situations and have no source of comfort. I regard it as a privilege that I did have.”

Anne Marie Breach, press officer for Suffolk Police, said last night that a family liaison officer will often be appointed when a fatal collision occurs, and often strong relationships are built between the officers and the families of those who have died.

She said: “Every family - and indeed every family member - deals with grief differently but these trained officers are there to try to provide help and support through these often difficult and traumatic times.

“Mr Stoddart found strength through his faith and through the support of friends and family and this is reflected in his book. He has been prepared to share his experience and this may go some way to helping others facing similar situations. Family liaison officers in Suffolk have been made aware of the book and we will be looking to supply details to other police forces who may be interested.”

Twenty copies are already winging their way to Brighton and last night Waterstones, in Lowestoft, confirmed they are now stocking the book and would be circulating it nationwide if that was possible.

Jo Wilde, manager of the store in London Road North, said: “There has been lots of interest. We like to support local authors especially something like this, which is close to so many people's hearts.”

Claire and Jenny Stoddart went to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert with their friends Carla Took, Adam Cox and Sarah Mitchell on the night of their death.

But as they made their way home, the Vauxhall Astra, being driven by Claire, was ploughed into by Ben Morphey, 23, who was travelling in the opposite direction and lost control.

The tragic crash, also claimed the life of Carla, 17, and Kim Abbot, 41, and Simon Bonner, 40, who were in Morphey's Renault Laguna.

Morphey is currently serving a six-and-a-half year jail sentence after having his term cut by two years by the Court of Appeal.

Before their deaths Jenny and Claire set up a My Space account for their father as a laugh, but after their death he took comfort in it by creating a series of online blogs, which eventually transformed into A12 to Heaven.

The first part of the book is given to Mr Stoddart's own life and how he became a Christian as a young man, but it also describes the anguish he, his family and the girls' friends felt when they were told of the accident.

Much of the book is delivered in diary format and includes extracts from Phil's diaries as well as Jenny's and Claire's and the last chapter is given to their friends, proving tear jerking and painstakingly real.

The book, published by Last Word Publications, is also available from the Oasis Christian Bookshop in Bevan Street, priced £7.99.

It can be ordered online at

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