TRIBUTE has been paid by colleagues to an anaesthetist at the Royal Gwent Hospital who killed himself while battling depression.

An inquest into the death of Dr Stephen Ridgway, who died 10 weeks ago, was told the 43-year-old enjoyed his job, his wife Anouk decribing him as “well-liked”, with “really good friends there, and supportive colleagues.”

But Dr Ridgway, who lived with his family in Cardiff, had been diagnosed with depression early in 2013, and struggled with the illness in the weeks before he died, senior coroner for Gwent David Bowen was told.

His death has been a great shock to colleagues, and fellow consultant anaesthetist Dr Andy Bagwell said: “Steve was a much-loved and dedicated member of the anaesthetics team at the Royal Gwent Hospital and is greatly missed by all who worked with him, and the patients he treated and cared for.

“His tragic death, in the prime of his career, is such a huge loss and our thoughts are with his family and friends following the conclusion of the inquest.”

Birmingham-born, Dr Ridgway began working at the Royal Gwent in March 2006. In a statement of evidence, Mrs Ridgway said her husband always said he suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression related to changes in seasons, during winter months and tended “to go downhill.”

At Christmas 2012, he began to get depressed and was formally diagnosed shortly afterwards.

Dr Ridgway had worked for a while in New Zealand, “dreamed” of returning there to work, and a full-time job there had become available.

Mrs Ridgway said he had a good chance of getting it. She had concerns, but it was agreed he would apply. He felt the interview had not gone well, but he was offered the job. However, he decided against it.

Dr Ridgway attended a conference in Harrogate in mid-September, but was very upset when he telephoned his wife. But he assured her he would not do anything silly, though he refused her suggestions of a psychiatric review.

In her statement, Mrs Ridgway said on the Wednesday prior to his death, he phoned in sick and the (health board’s) clinical director came to see him. He said he was still sad because he could not go to New Zealand.

On Saturday September 27, Mrs Ridgway saw the car had gone and, worried, she called South Wales Police. She had not realised how ill he was.

Later that day, his body was found in the office he shared with colleagues at the Royal Gwent. A post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death was an injection of a drug used in anaesthesia.

Mr Bowen concluded Dr Ridgway had killed himself while depressed.