Sidmouth pays tribute to ‘gentle giant’ Jimmy Small

Jimmy Small with his dog Ben. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 7434-29-13AW

Jimmy Small with his dog Ben. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 7434-29-13AW - Credit: Archant

Popular 73-year-old remembered as a ‘true character’

Sidmouth has this week paid tribute to ‘gentle giant’ Jimmy Small and remembered him as a ‘true character’ who helped those most in need.

The popular 73-year-old’s body was found after emergency services were called to a car fire on land in Seaway Lane, near Tipton St John, last Tuesday, November 8.

News of his death has shaken the community - with scores of people giving their recollections of a ‘Sidmouth legend’.

Described by those who knew him as ‘true individual’, ‘real character’ and ‘gentle giant’, Jimmy was born and bred in Sidmouth and is remembered as a kind man who opened his home to people who had nowhere else to go.

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The father-of-four lived on a plot of land near The Bowd that was occupied by his parents and grandparents before him.

Ann Liverton – a friend and former town and district councillor – said of Jimmy: “He was an individual. He was born and bred in Sidmouth, but he still exercised freedom of spirit. He used to help people sent to him from the social services, many of them with drug and alcohol problems, who others would not accommodate. He was totally kind and gentlemanly and polite. I think there is room in this world for people who are not run-of-the-mill - he was a real local character and he stood up for his right not to conform.”

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Gareth Adcock, who grew up in Sidmouth, said: “He opened his house to people who had nowhere to go. I never heard a bad word said about him.”

Alita Pace, of Tipton St John Village Store, has known Jimmy for 20 years and said he would often stop by with his beloved dog, Ben. Alita remembers speaking to Jimmy the day before his death, when he came in for a cup of tea.

She said she felt incredibly sad to lose one of the ‘true local characters’, adding: “He would come and buy a sausage roll for Ben and ice cream for himself. He loved nature and would go to the fields of Venn Ottery with his dog. He would always help you and look out for you.”

Cynthia Coles, of East Hill Pride Farm Shop, recalled ‘a kind, polite man’ who would often come in for lunch or a bacon bap with his constant canine companion.

Ann Worthington, of Sidmouth homelessness action group Gateway, said anyone left in housing need as a result of the ‘tragic incident’ can call her on 07980 023202, or Lesley Crawford 07470 004877, for advice and support.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said officers are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident, but are not treating it as suspicious. The coroner confirmed Jimmy’s next of kin have been informed and an inquest date is yet to be set.

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