NEIGHBOURS have spoken of their shock after a Thornbury grandfather died when a flight to Singapore was hit by severe turbulence.

Geoff Kitchen, 73, suffered a suspected heart attack on the Singapore Airlines flight from Heathrow on Tuesday.

Geoffrey - also known as Geoff -  was on the flight with his wife, and had been planning to go on a cruise in Indonesia and then travel to Australia.

Singapore Airlines said the flight encountered "sudden extreme turbulence" over Myanmar's Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000ft about 10 hours after departure.

The pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted the plane to Bangkok.

Seven other passengers were critically injured, while dozens more suffered minor injuries.

"He seemed a very, very nice sort of chap" 

Valeria Murray, 89, one of Mr Kitchen’s neighbours said: “I knew him more as a neighbour, walking up and down the road and so on grinning at each other and saying hello. 

“He seemed a very, very nice sort of chap. It was, I think, just a shock for everybody living locally.

“I hadn’t realised it was going to be a special holiday, for several weeks apparently, we’re all having to take a deep breath and take it all in. 

“He’s a grandfather, his son cleans all our windows and we have seen both of them – Geoff and Linda – with the grandchildren walking up and down the road. 

“Somebody you know who has been around is suddenly gone.”

She added: “I’ve just been sort of thinking about it all the time, really in the back of my mind, you know, gosh, somebody that you have known – not very well – but known and then just suddenly, I don’t really know how to describe it, you just sort of feel numb in a way.

“It’s going to take a little while.”

Gazette Series: Valerie Murray, aged 89, a neighbour of Geoff KitchenValerie Murray, aged 89, a neighbour of Geoff Kitchen (Image: PA)

"He was witty, clever, sharp and caring" says friend 

Mr Kitchen was a "staunch supporter" of Thornbury Musical Theatre Group for more than 35 years serving as secretary, treasurer and chairman. 

Neighbour Jill Dimond, 71, who is retired, met Geoff through musical theatre connections.  

Having also lived on the same road as him, Jill described him as an “amazing friend”. 

She added: "He was witty, clever, sharp and caring.

"His death will have an enormous impact on the community in Thornberry, especially with the amateur performance and musical theatre.”

Another resident said Geoff would often stop for a chat and had given him advice on loft conversions.  

Gazette Series: Geoff Kitchen from Thornbury died after a flight from Heathrow Airport to Singapore encountered severe turbulenceGeoff Kitchen from Thornbury died after a flight from Heathrow Airport to Singapore encountered severe turbulence (Image: SWNS / UGC)

The neighbour said: “He was a nice chap, we’d walk up the street and chat now and again.

"I was shocked to hear what had happened on the way to what should have been the trip of a lifetime. 

“Yesterday I thought, why are there police cars on a street like this?

“This morning I looked at the news and thought that it looks like Geoff who lives down the street?” 

“It was a shock, terrible."

Another neighbour said: “It’s so sad for the street.”

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spokesperson said it was supporting Geoff's family.

Gazette Series: Flight path of Singapore Airlines planeFlight path of Singapore Airlines plane (Image: PA)