Tributes to tragic road crash victim

A DEVASTATED couple are contemplating an unbearable Christmas following the tragic death of their much-loved 24-year-old son in a road accident.Choking back the tears, Tony and Chris Fance yesterday paid tribute to their son Simon, described as "a rock" by his father, after he died as he travelled back from Oxford to the family home near Bury St Edmunds.

A DEVASTATED couple are contemplating an unbearable Christmas following the tragic death of their much-loved 24-year-old son in a road accident.

Choking back the tears, Tony and Chris Fance yesterday paid tribute to their son Simon, described as "a rock" by his father, after he died as he travelled back from Oxford to the family home near Bury St Edmunds.

The couple, licensees of the Woolpack pub in Fornham St Martin, said they had been planning their first family Christmas this year away from the pub, but now feared the festive season would never be the same again.

Mrs Fance said: "Christmas is not going to be very easy this year and I don't think it will ever be the same again.


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"Simon was up until about 3am helping us put all our Christmas lights and decorations up at the pub – that was what he was like.

"He bought Christmas presents for everyone and he always took his time choosing what to buy everyone. He was a really thoughtful person – he never put any gift tags on the presents, he just knew who they were for.

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"We are trying to cope. We were so proud of him."

Mr Fance added: "We were really looking forward to Christmas, we were going to close the pub for two whole days and we have never done that before. We have been talking about it for months and now I don't know what we are going to do.

"Simon was my brick and his death has cracked my heart. He was all diamond."

Simon was killed when his Ford Fiesta was in collision with a lorry on the A424 at Burford in Oxfordshire on Tuesday of last week .

Police are still investigating the crash, which occurred just weeks before Mr and Mrs Fance's 28th wedding anniversary. Simon's father said his son had just been to see his long-term girlfriend Claire-Lise Burton and was driving home.

"Because of their close relationship, they used to text each other all the time and when we found Simon's phone, you could see how desperate Claire-Lise had become as her text messages were pretty horrific," added Mr Fance.

"She was saying that she knew there was something wrong and why haven't you texted me?"

Mrs Fance added: "He has done the journey many times and he knows the road very well. He was just ten minutes away from his girlfriend's house."

His close family described Simon as very caring and said he had a special relationship with his 12-year-old sister Sara .

His brother Derek, 26, said: "He was just so generous all of the time with his sister and he would always go the extra mile.

"He used to work at Woolworths in Bury and he would spend all his wages buying bags full of toys for Sara. He would have given the shirt off his back for anyone."

Educated in the Sudbury area and then achieving excellent GCSE and A-Level results at Culford School, near Bury St Edmunds, Simon then earned a Theology degree at Westminster College, Oxford.

He had recently qualified as a religious studies teacher and was looking for work after the New Year.

Mrs Fance said: "He was described by one 13-year-old pupil as not only a teacher but a friend who taught the meaning of life.

"He always did his teaching jobs to the full, no corners were missed – it had to be perfect. He would have been a credit to the teaching profession."

The couple have spent more than 25 years as licensees in Great Cornard, Long Melford and Stradishall before moving to the Woolpack ten years ago.

In a joint statement, friends Toby Hall and Marc Oldham said: "Simon had it all – intelligence, wit, passion, kindness, determination and a desire to live life to the full.

"He was a young man looking for his niche in life and I know that when he found it, he would have grasped it with both hands and shone.

"Above all, he was our friend and we and many more will miss him dearly."

Chris Hill, who became good friends with Simon while the pair were at university, also paid tribute to a "good, kind person".

Mr Hill, who had invited Simon to his wedding on December 27, said: "Simon gave faith to other people. He was a lovely bloke with a cheeky grin.

"He never had any money because he always spent it on other people."

Simon's funeral will be held on Friday at 1pm at St Martin's Church, Fornham St Martin. Any donations will go towards an orphan and underprivileged children's charity.

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