Tributes paid to former thatcher

TRIBUTES have been paid to a “willing and helpful” thatcher with a “heart of gold” who died under suspicious circumstances at his home.

Elliot Furniss

TRIBUTES have been paid to a “willing and helpful” thatcher with a “heart of gold” who died under suspicious circumstances at his home.

Richard Clarke, 74, was found dead in the driveway of his house on the outskirts of Eye on Saturday morning.

Graham Borrill runs a thatching business and said Mr Clarke, also a keen cyclist, had given him support and advice in the early days of his career.

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He said: “He was always very willing to help and advise and I very often went to him and asked him questions.

“It's bloody sad news. We went and had a drink together on Friday afternoon and he was in damned good mood.

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“He was going cycling on the Friday and decided not to go and suggested we went and had a pint, which is what we did. His last words to me where 'I thoroughly enjoyed myself'.”

Mr Borrill said he had been in regular contact with Mr Clarke's partner Lesley since his death and said she was “very upset” and “devastated”.

He added: “He would always speak his mind and call a spade a spade, but I quite liked that. He had a heart of gold and a very big one at that, always keen to help.

“As far as I was concerned, he was very fit. Last year or the year before he cycled down through France to see the Tour de France and did some sort of overnight endurance rides. He had packed up thatching several years ago but he always used to make the brotches (large metal thatch pins) for me - he was very good with his hands.”

Police have renewed their appeals for information about Mr Clarke's death and have asked for anyone who passed his home in Cranley Green Road on Saturday morning to get in touch.

A spokesman said: “Detectives investigating the case are keen to speak to anyone who was in the area between Friday evening and Saturday morning and are particularly keen to trace anyone who drove along the road towards Occold between 5am and 7.30am on Saturday.

“Please come forward regardless of whether you think you saw anything of use as you may have information that can help the inquiry.”

The spokesman added: “A post mortem examination of the body revealed the man had sustained a head injury and further tests are being carried out to determine how this was sustained. The death is being treated as suspicious.”

A 42-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of murder has now been released on bail to return to Ipswich Police Station on October 12.

Anyone with information that may help the investigation is urged to contact Suffolk Police on 01473 613500.

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