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Tributes paid to ‘inspirational’ Sidmouth hotelier Alan Clifford

PUBLISHED: 12:02 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:02 20 April 2017

Alan Clifford who died at the age of 78.

Alan Clifford who died at the age of 78.

Archant

A popular Sidmouth hotelier has been remembered for his generous nature, work ethic and positive attitude.

Alan Clifford and his wife Val outside the Devoran hotel which they ran for 30 years. Alan Clifford and his wife Val outside the Devoran hotel which they ran for 30 years.

Alan Clifford died peacefully aged 78 in Sidmouth Nursing Home on March 29 after battling cancer for two-and-a-half years.

The grandfather-of-two ran the Devoran Hotel with his wife Val for three decades and was passionate about making guests feel like family and serving home-cooked food.

Since his death, Alan’s family has received more than 130 cards and hundreds more messages online from friends, guests and staff right across the UK.

His son, Ian, said: “It’s his personality and humanity, generosity, love, sense of hospitality and trust that will live on for me and in the family. His impact on our lives is enormous and continues.”

Born Humberto De Barros Canha in Funchal, Madeira, Alan worked to provide for his family after his father died when he was three.

As a teenager, he worked as a tour guide in Funchal and met his adoptive parents, Connie and Claud Clifford, while they were on holiday and made a ‘brave decision’ to return with them to England.

In 1962, he married Val and the couple moved to Sidmouth in 1971 to take on the Devoran Hotel.

Visitors referred to it as the ‘pink hotel’ as the couple had painted it the same shade as their house in Wolverhampton. The couple were keen supporters of the Sidmouth Britain in Bloom campaigns and produced award-winning colourful hanging baskets.

Val said: “It was both our lives. We were there every day - we did not have a day off throughout the season. It was our lives’ work.”

When the couple took over the hotel, the premises had five toilets in the whole building.

Val added: “Alan became a chef - he had never been one before, but he was a quick learner. And then he became a barman and plumber and an electrician and bricklayer and bed-fixer and seagull-scarer and every other possible job you would have to learn running a hotel.”

After retiring in 2001, Alan continued to enjoy gardening and DIY projects. His family added his two grandchildren, Robyn and Calvin, were a source of great happiness and pride for him.

His daughter Tina said: “He became a well-known, friendly face around the town, was always willing to help others, and was also a member of Sidmouth Rotary club. He was a very jovial character. He always looked on the positive side of life and was an inspiration to us all.”

The avid car fan made his final journey along the seafront to Exeter Crematorium in a silver hearse on Wednesday, before a thanksgiving and celebration service at Sidmouth Parish Church for 150 people.

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