There was time for one last bet for Exeter's John Hill as family and friends paid tribute
HORSE racing fan John Hill placed one last bet on the way to his own funeral at Exeter Crematorium – and 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 put up the £50 stake.
The cortege carrying Mr Hill’s body from his home stopped at the bookies and his twin brother George and grandson, Levi Crawford, was able to nip in to place the bet before rejoining the cortege for the journey to the crematorium off Topsham Road.
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When his coffin arrived at the crematorium a racing commentary was played instead of the funeral march.
The winnings from the bet 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 two 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 news paper checking the runners, riders and form before placing his bets.
“I think he was quite lucky at it. Certainly just before Christmas he won £1,000 on the horse but he only told his twin brother 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 gritting duties in the winter.
He died following a fall on the day after his sixth great grandchild, Emily was born.
Caroline said: “Dad always wanted to be the 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 would have laughed.”
Mr Hill also had five grandchildren, Levi, Laura, Roxzanne, Charlotte and PJ, six.