The family of a man who died in a house fire in Clinkham Wood have described him as an “inspiration”.
Ian Appleton, 51, died after a house blaze at his home in Lingmell Avenue, Clinkham Wood, on Saturday, September 26.
An investigation into the fire is still undergoing, but it is believed to have been started by a lit cigarette.
Today, Ian’s niece, Katie Shallcross, spoke of her family’s devastation.
She said: “Ian was extremely friendly and likeable.
“His death has had a huge impact on the whole family and we are totally devastated. We have had a lot of expression of sympathy from all over the world, from Australia, China, Italy and Ireland, to name but a few. We have relatives and friends from different parts of the world and because we are such a close-knit family he is always around when they visit, so they knew him well. They loved him as we did.
He had a real ability to communicate with all ages of people. He had five great nieces and great nephews and he always had time for themIan’s niece, Katie Shallcross
“He had a real ability to communicate with all ages of people. He had five great nieces and great nephews and he always had time for them. He also got on really well with elderly people, especially clients at United Utilities where he worked.
“He met a lot of people through his job and he had great rapport with them.
“He had a wide range of interests and a great knowledge of literature, films and music.
“He loved Terry Pratchett and JRR Tolkien and had a large collection of those books. He also loved poetry and Spike Milligan.
“He enjoyed watching John Wayne films and loved listening to heavy metal, ACDC and progressive rock band King Crimson. Ian was a keen musician and he played bass guitar in a local group called MSP with his friends.
“He had a great love of nature and was part of a large environmental project with United Utilities.”
Ian, who was a waste water network performance technician at United Utilities, was well respected by his colleagues.
Around 170 members of the workforce are expected to attend his funeral at St Patrick’s Church, in Clinkham Wood, on Friday October 9.
Tony Griffiths, from United Utilities’ wastewater team, said: “Ian was a kind and well-loved colleague. He was passionate about his job, and an inspiration to many new starters in our industry.
“The news has saddened us all, and our thoughts are of course with his family, friends and colleagues.”