Labourer found in burnt-out caravan

PUBLISHED: 11:17 27 September 2007 | UPDATED: 21:49 29 May 2010

A picture of Alec Saunders that was in The Bull Inn pub

A picture of Alec Saunders that was in The Bull Inn pub

THE body of a man was found in a burnt-out caravan at White Hall Farm near Wethersfield on Saturday. The man, who has not yet been identified, is believed to be 64-year-old self-employed labourer and odd-job man Alec Saunders. Mr Saunders lived in Blackmo

THE body of a man was found in a burnt-out caravan at White Hall Farm near Wethersfield on Saturday.

The man, who has not yet been identified, is believed to be 64-year-old self-employed labourer and odd-job man Alec Saunders.

Mr Saunders lived in Blackmore End, was a member of the playing field fund-raising committee and a regular at The Bull Inn in the village.

Mike Thain, a friend of Mr Saunders' for 30 years, heard about his death on Sunday morning.

Sitting in what has become known as 'Alec's Seat' by the fireplace in the pub, he said: "Alec was a real character and his death hasn't really sunk in.

"I haven't really come to terms with it yet and I'm still expecting him to walk through that door.

"He liked to come to the pub after work and enjoy a few pints of IPA with his friends. He was very jovial,

liked a laugh and was a very light-hearted guy."

Landlady Debbie D'Abreu said: "Alec was a regular at the pub and very much part of the furniture. He was known by lots of people and would help anyone."

Barmaid Vicki Gribbin added: "He even had his own special glass with Uncle Alec on it that his niece gave to him when she got married."

Margaret Finbow, from Fairy Farm was a close friend and Mr Saunders often went to her house for dinner.

She said: "He was a marvellous man. He was always raising money for one charity or another, riding bikes and things.

"Sometimes he'd come in with all his hair chopped off, explaining he'd been raising money for a good cause."

He was heavily involved with raising funds to replace the children's play equipment, including swings and slides, on the village's playing fields.

Mrs Finbow added: "He used to come and go between our house and Brian Moore's who owns White Hall Farm.

"I know Brian's devastated about it. We'll all miss him terribly."

She said that although he was very much his own man everyone knew and liked him and if anyone ever needed something doing, he would always be there to help.

Mr Saunders lived on his own in the caravan that had been his home for the five years while he had lived in the village.

He had previously lived in Gosfield, near Braintree, where he also had a mobile home.

A police spokesman said: "At this stage, the fire is not thought to be suspicious.

"However, a scientific examination of the scene will be carried out to determine the cause of the fire and a post mortem will also take place."

She confirmed that a file had been passed to the coroner's office and a date for the inquest has yet to be set.

A spokesman for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: "We were not called to attend the fire on the Saturday and two crews attended the scene for the first time on the Sunday.

"A full investigation has been launched to establish the cause of the blaze."

It is thought that the fire was not reported to the emergency services because of the position of the caravan, which is reportedly behind some farm buildings, which meant it was not seen.

A police spokesman said the body is not expected to be formally identified for some time as it is in such a poor condition.

It is thought that dental records may be one of the methods used to try and positively identify the man.

A collection has been started at the Bull Inn. It hasn't yet been decided what charity the money will be donated to.

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