John, 78, makes his final bet en route to his own funeral
HORSE racing fan John Hill placed one last bet on the way to his own funeral at Exeter Crematorium – and it turned out to be a winner.
Mr Hill, who was 78 when he died after a fall near his home in Redhills Close, Exwick, stopped off at his favourite William Hill bookies in Isleworth Road to lay £50, even though he was not going to be around to pick up any winnings.
Turf accountant William Hill – no relation – put up the £50 stake which scooped £7.20 profit.
The cortège carrying Mr Hill's body from his home stopped at the bookies and his twin brother George and grandson Levi Crawford were able to nip in to place the bet before rejoining the cortège for the journey to the crematorium off Topsham Road.
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When his coffin arrived, a racing commentary was played instead of the funeral march.
The winnings are destined to go to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital's Yarty ward where Mr Hill was treated for various ailments over a number of years.
It was all the idea of Mr Hill's daughters, Caroline Waite and Esther Crawford, who wanted to give their dad the sort of send-off he would have appreciated.
Caroline said: "Dad would be laughing non-stop if this had happened at somebody else's funeral. He would love it.
"We wanted to do something special for him because he loved to wander down to the bookies every day and have a little bet.
"Even when he was in hospital we had to go round there to pick up his bets. The nurses sometimes were frantic because it wasn't visiting time, but we had to be there and nip around to the bookies in Heavitree.
"Dad loved his horses and would spend hours with the newspaper checking the runners, riders and form. Just before Christmas he won £1,000 but he only told George."
Mr Hill lived alone at Redhills Close, his wife Diana having died eight years ago.
He worked for many years as a road man for the county council, and was regularly called out for winter gritting duties.
He died following a fall on the day after his sixth great grandchild, Emily, was born. Caroline said: "Dad always wanted to be centre of attention. He was in hospital after the fall and I told him he'd done it to take attention away from the new baby. He'd have laughed."
Mr Hill also had five grandchildren, Levi, Laura, Roxzanne, Charlotte and PJ, six.