"Kind-hearted" OAP who died in fire hailed by traders as "more like a friend than a customer"

"Kind-hearted" OAP who died in fire hailed by traders as "more like a friend than a customer"

By David Parker | 22/10/2021

'Kind-hearted' OAP who died in fire hailed by traders as 'more like a friend than a customer'


WARM tributes have been paid to a familiar face in Mexborough town centre after he died in a bungalow fire.

The man, named locally as Donald Clarke, made daily trips to the town’s High Street and became a well-known character among people working there.

Mr Clarke died last Friday evening after a fire at his bungalow on Flowitt Street, despite the best efforts of neighbours who tried to break in and firefighters who discovered him in his living room.

The fire service said Mr Clarke had been in his 80s but friends of his told the Weekender they believed he was in his mid-70s.

Richard Dicken, who works at Pete’s DIY, said he had got to know Mr Clarke about seven years ago when he saw him in town.

“He used to come down the High Street two or three times a day,” he said.

“I used to go out and have a chat with him and go and have a fag with him.

“He was a well-known face in town — he was part of the furniture — and I do really miss the man.”

Mr Dicken said Mr Clarke had lived by himself since he lost his beloved dog about ten months ago.

David Read, of Newstyme newsagents, said Mr Clarke would be at his shop every morning when they opened and would always stay for a chat.

He and colleague Lee Sinclair are raising money in memory of Mr Clarke, which they will use to buy flowers for him or donate to his family.

Mr Read said: “He was more like a friend than a customer.

“Every day, he was here like clockwork.

“Everyone on the High Street knew him — he was a character and loved a laugh.”

Mr Read said they would love to hear from any members of Mr Clarke’s family.

Friend David Geldard said Mr Clarke’s death had shocked everybody who had known him.

“None of us have got a bad word to say about him,” he said.

“He would get on with everybody and that’s how we will remember him.”

Those who knew Mr Clarke told the Weekender that he had previously worked on a fairground and on a farm.

Neighbour Ally White, who knew Mr Clarke for at least ten years, said she and others living nearby had tried to get into his bungalow when it was on fire but had not been able to.

“He was a sweetheart,” she said.

“I’m still in shock about what happened.”

Another neighbour, Sue Aitken, said she had known Mr Clarke since moving to Flowitt Street about eight years ago.

“He had a kind heart,” she said.

“Every now and then, if I didn’t see him, I used to go and knock to see if he was alright.

“He had a good sense of humour at times.”

Three fire crews were called to Mr Clarke’s bungalow last Friday and found him in the living room, a spokesperson for the fire service said.

Despite their best efforts they could not revive him, they added.

An investigation found the cause of the fire was accidental, a police spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Doncaster Coroner’s Court said they had received a file on Mr Clarke but a date for an inquest was yet to be listed.


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