A dedicated charity fund-raiser is in shock after his “pride and joy” ice cream van was destroyed by fire.

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David Clarke, 70, from Fairview Road, North Walsham, had owned the second hand Transit vehicle for 18 months and sold ice creams for good causes at fairs and markets.

The blaze happened today just before 10.45am while he was in Thetford but it was witnessed by Louise Crane, who was caring for Mr Clarke’s 77-year-old wife at the time.

Mr Clarke, a member of the Wroxham and Hoveton Lions, said: “I cannot believe it has happened. It was my pride a joy. Someone rang me and said ‘Your van is on fire’ and I thought they were kidding. The van is loved and I know I cannot get another one like this.”

He bought the vehicle about 18 months ago for £6,500 from Devon.

The long-term Lions club member has raised money for charity for several years and has owned other ice cream vans in the past for this reason.

“It was one of my favourites because it came from Devon. I spent a lot of my life in Cornwall,” Mr Clarke added.

The retired lorry driver was going to repaint the van imminently but said he might “throw in the towel” in regards to charity fund-raising.

Miss Crane, 29, first saw white smoke coming out of the engine which quickly turned into thick black smoke and then flames.

“My main worry was the van would go bang,” she said.

Firefighters from North Walsham arrived within five minutes of the 999 call and the flames were put out quikly.

They did not spread to the bungalow or harm Mr Clarke’s chickens.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

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