Devastated family pay tribute to M5 fatality Thames

“A beautiful and colourful spirit has gone from Sidmouth,” says brother,

DISTRAUGHT loved-ones have paid tribute to a flamboyant Sidmouth character and “deeply kind man” who died after he was hit by a lorry on the M5.

Eccentric and adored uncle and brother Thames Morrison Witkin, 69, could cheer up complete strangers with his smile – his grieving family told the Herald.

Theatre and philosophy lover Thames, of Meadway, was this week named as the fatality in a collision between a pedestrian and articulated truck on the motorway last Friday.

“A beautiful and colourful spirit has gone from Sidmouth,” said his brother, Robert. “We are all devastated at his loss. People loved Thames. He could serenade a bus queue if he felt like it.”


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Thames, who lived in Sidmouth for 30 years, was a regular at the Manor Pavilion Theatre and was well-known for his eye-catching dress sense and friendly and erudite personality.

“He was eccentric in a totally good way, and could do what most of us can’t – walk up to a complete stranger, ask them how they were, and engage them in conversation,” said Robert, 70, of Exeter.

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“Thames had a love for people and extended his warmth to anyone he met, whether on a bus, or walking along the Esplanade.

“He was a gentle and loving man, who would discourse with anyone on philosophy and all things spiritual. He had the courage to be himself with anyone.

“Thames could make someone feel better about themselves, just because he had a lovely smile and a nice way with people.

Chris Rignall, president of the Lions Club of Sidmouth, said he often spotted Thames at the group’s concerts. He said: “I spoke to him on several occasions. He was a well educated person, particularly in the musical fields.”

Emergency services raced to a stretch between junction 30 and 31 of the M5 at around 11am on March 9. Thames was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two northbound lanes of the motorway were closed for six hours while collision investigators examined the scene.

The incident led to major traffic tailbacks. The driver of the lorry was uninjured.

Police have appealed for anyone who witnessed the incident to contact them by dialling 101, reference number: 206 090312.

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