Tributes paid to ‘one of life’s characters’ Ben Kennett

Ben Kennett has been remembered for his outgoing personality and love of animals in tributes from fr

Ben Kennett has been remembered for his outgoing personality and love of animals in tributes from friends and family. - Credit: Archant

Heartwarming tributes have been paid to a Sidmouth man who never let his disability affect his life.

Ben Kennett enjoyed making matchstick figures.

Ben Kennett enjoyed making matchstick figures. - Credit: Archant

Ben Kennett died in Sidmouth Hospital on March 1 following a 14-month battle with oesophagus cancer.

The 62-year-old grew up in Ottery, living in Bradley End and Longdogs Lane with his four siblings, before he moved to Sidmouth as an adult with his sister Vanessa.

Ben was left deaf after contracting meningitis when he was just two weeks old. Doctors gave him a 50 per cent chance of survival, but said, if he lived, he would have health problems.

Despite his disability, Vanessa said that his deafness never stopped him doing anything he wanted to, including working as a landscape gardener and as a groomer for 26 years at The Donkey Sanctuary.

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She said: “He was an extrovert. If he saw people he knew he would cross the road to shake hands with them.

“He worked so hard, there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. I knew he was an incredible person, but it wasn’t until I looked back on his life and heard what other people thought about him that I was quite in awe of his life.”

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Growing up, she said Ben was a bit of a trouble maker and enjoyed playing pranks.

She added: “He was one of those real characters. He was one of those people who was determined to get on with his life despite his disability.”

Maxine Carter, who was Ben’s boss at the Donkey Sanctuary, said: “The sanctuary was his life and he loved the donkeys. Ben loved his donkeys as much as we loved him.

“He made me laugh when new staff started, he had his routine and if they didn’t do it his way they’d be trouble. Ben was strong and until this illness he never had a day off sick, he worked so hard, there really won’t be anyone to replace him. He will hold that special place in our hearts.”

Ben’s biggest hobbies were animals, gardening and matchstick figures. The latter he began in his 20s and has created large models of cars, ships and the Eiffel Tower. The family hope that some of the collection may go on display in the future.

A service was held for Ben in Higher Ground Meadow in Dorset on March 22 where he was buried in the meadow.

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