Updated: Fire investigators still on scene after house fire in Shipdham

A elderly man has died in a house fire at Shipdham. Picture: Ian Burt

A elderly man has died in a house fire at Shipdham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Villagers have shared fond memories of a man whose body was found as firefighters tackled a blaze at his home.

Investigations are continuing today at the house on The Green in Shipdham, near Dereham, after the fire on Sunday evening.

The fire broke out at about 5.30pm and the man, who has been named locally as Steve Chenery and was in his 80s, was found in an armchair in the property.

People in the village said they were 'shocked' and 'saddened' to hear of his death, and said it was 'tragic news'.

Marlene Secker, 65, who has lived in Shipdham all of her life, said her mum, who is now 91, had gone to school with Mr Chenery and that she held 'fond' and 'happy' memories of him from her childhood.

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She said: 'I remember how he used to always ride his bike and he would wear a trilby when we were children. He used to make jewellery and there is a painting of his in the WI Hall.

'All of us local children knew him because he was a really lovely and kind character. He was one of the kindness and loveliest men out there.'

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Mrs Secker said Mr Chenery had never married and that he used to live with his two late sisters. She said he had been born in the village and had always lived at The Green.

Richard Playford, 69, who lives on The Green, said Mr Chenery had always 'kept himself to himself' and was 'very reclusive'.

Stephen Vargerson, a friend of Mr Chenery's, said: 'Steve was a true Norfolk gentleman, he could talk to the birds and hedgerow animals. He kept goats for years on land he owned in the village and he painted beautiful pictures of local scenes, people who he once knew and animals he kept.

'He could play the accordion and was a crack shot with his Lee Enfield 303 rifle.

'He very rarely ventured out, a local person delivered his few groceries and he lived and slept in one downstairs room next to his coal fire and table. 'His knowledge of hedgerow medicine, bird songs, and plants was worthy of being put into a reference book.

'He will be sadly missed.'

Members of the Dereham-based Urban Search and Research (Usar) team are still at the scene today helping to make the property safe for detectives and fire officers to enter.

Police are treating the man's death as unexplained. It is believed the fire started on the ground floor. After the fire was initially put out, firefighters were called back to the scene by police at 11.45pm after fires reignited in the roof space causing a second blaze to take hold

Police have cordoned off the picturesque green which is in the middle of the village.

Did you know the man and want to pay tribute? Email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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