Tributes have been paid to a Royal British Legion stalwart and well-known villager who died in a house fire believed to have been caused by a faulty electric blanket.
Fred Draycott (91) was born and bred in South Croxton and was a poppy collector in the village for many years.
One of the oldest members of the Twyford and District Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL), Fred used to help out at the village’s Golden Fleece pub for many years and is also remembered for his time working as a chimney sweep as well as doing gardening for people.
Family and friends have described him as ‘the salt of the Earth’ and ‘an absolute gentleman’.
Fred, who lived in South Croxton all his life, died in the blaze which broke out at his home in School Lane at about 5am on Saturday. He lived alone.
His funeral will be held at South Croxton Church next Thursday (February 18) at 11am. Donations will go to a dementia charity.
Fred’s nephew, John Elliott, said: “He was an absolute gentleman, a really nice guy who helped me do things all through my life.
“He was born in the village and lived there all his life, apart from when he served in the Army as a chef. He was very well known and was the salt of the Earth.”
David Gulley, chairman of the Twyford and District Branch of the RBL, said: “Fred was just an exceptional member who always joined in with everything.
“He was poppy collector in the village for many years as well as being escort to the standard bearer. He was a quiet man in many ways and of our oldest members since the branch was formed. It’s a very sad loss and we will miss him.”
Such was Fred’s commitment to the Poppy Appeal that about five years ago he went on a tour of a poppy factory in Richmond Upon Thames, run by ex-service people, where he was able to make his own poppy.
Fred’s next door neighbour, Peter Wardman, added: “He was a wonderful man who would do anything for anyone at any time.
“He was a man of South Croxton, and an irrepressible character who loved people. He was extremely well-known and used to help out at the pub which was run for about 25 years by his older sister, Freda, and brother-in law, Jim.
“He worked at an engineering factory in Syston for more than 25 years and used to do gardening for people up until two or three years ago.
“I knew Fred for about 34 years. He was like a father to me and it was a privilege to have been his friend.”