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Village remembers "gentleman" following tragic house fire

PUBLISHED: 13:39 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:18 12 April 2019

Billy English, from Ilketshall St Margaret was at his happiest when he was working on the land. Picture: Contribed by the English Family

Billy English, from Ilketshall St Margaret was at his happiest when he was working on the land. Picture: Contribed by the English Family

Archant

A father has been remembered as "one old fashioned country gentleman", as a village mourns his loss following a house fire.

Mr English (left) pictured with his life-long friend friend Edgar. Picture: Contributed by the English familyMr English (left) pictured with his life-long friend friend Edgar. Picture: Contributed by the English family

Billy English, from Ilketshall St Margaret, near Bungay, died in his Low Street home on March 16.

The 81-year-old lived in the village his whole life, taking to the sweeping fields as a farmer at the age of 14.

He fell in love with his next door neighbour, Sheila, and the couple were married at the medieval Ilketshall St Margaret church and had five children.

His daughter, Hazel Fenn, from Beccles said he never recovered from his wife’s death from cancer in 2001 but the village was his life, and he was proud of his home and his neighbours.

He lived in the village his whole life with his wife Sheila, who was his next door neighbour. Picture: Contributed by English FamilyHe lived in the village his whole life with his wife Sheila, who was his next door neighbour. Picture: Contributed by English Family

If the drains were blocked he would clean them, he tended to the garden beds around the village hall and he would regularly litter pick to keep the streets pristine, she said.

“He would always pick up every bit of rubbish - when he would come visit me he would walk up my drive carrying a bag of litter,” she said.

According to his daughter, Rev Sam Lee would call on the local legend regularly for his knowledge on villagers and said “his knowledge of the local people was like an encyclopedia.”

On Monday, (April 8) more than 150 mourners gathered in the small village church to see off the man who is described as a “gentle man and a gentleman”.

At his funeral, his family retold how their father fought off SAS soldiers with a “sugar beet” after he was mistaken for “the enemy”.

“He has managed in the dark to pull a large sugar beet out of the field and take one of the soldiers out with it,” she said.

Last month, emergency services were called to a blaze at 10.30pm. Police were first on the scene and forced entry to the building, rescuing Mr English who was trapped inside.

He was taken to the James Paget Hospital, but later died at the hospital.

On behalf of the English family, Mrs Fenn said; “I want to thank the villagers, and the village hall as well as the all emergency services and the staff at the James Paget.

“It was sad the way he died.”

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