Football match postponed as a tribute to March man dubbed ‘Mr Dedication’ who died following accident

TRIBUTES flooded in today for the “perfect gentleman” from March who died in a car accident on the outskirts of Chatteris on Sunday.

Douglas Cranwell touched the lives of many across Fenland with the unfounded loyalty, dedication and helpfulness he showed to everything and everyone.

The 83-year-old died on Tuesday, two days after his Ford Focus left the A142 Ireton’s Way, Chatteris, close to the junction with Wenny Road, and ended in a garden.

Mr Cranwell once played bowls at county level, was a founding member of Ely Rugby Club and was a life member of the British Conger Club.

He was nicknamed ‘Mr Dedication’ at Ely City FC where he was a life vice-president. He served the club for 67 years, and first became associated with The Robins as a 16-year-old. The club postponed their Wednesday night fixture as a tribute to him.

His son, Richard Cranwell, 56, expressed the pride that he and his brother Stephen, 53, felt at having such a respected father.

He said: “He was a very dedicated family man and it was a pleasure to call him our father.

Most Read

“He was so respectful, kind and supportive. He was socially active and liked by so many people.

“He was always the first at the bar to buy a round of drinks and couldn’t help people enough. He was such a generous man and was always doing favours.”

Mr Cranwell of Green Street, retired in July 1992 after spending 44 years at Middle Level Commissioners and showed similar allegiance to the March Conservative Club, Ely City Football Club and a number of other groups in the area. His wife Phoebe died 15 years ago.

He had been holidaying with March Probus Club in Torquay last week and had only returned home on Saturday.

Roy Giddens, who had been Mr Cranwell’s friend for 50 years, spoke glowingly about the man who he had come to rely on after becoming partially-sighted following an incident at work.

“He felt more like a brother than a best friend,” said Mr Giddens, who met Mr Cranwell at March Conservative Club.

“We were known as the terrible twins because we did everything together. The best thing about Doug was that he was so popular without being forceful.

“He never wanted anything in return and will never realise what he did for me. He was so thoughtful and the best friend you could ever have.”

Stephen Bradsaw, chairman of March Conservative Club, paid his respects to the loyal Conservative supporter.

He said: “Doug really was the perfect gentleman.

“He was one of those people who never lost his temper and was such a dedicated person in everything he did. He was a fantastic clubman and such a nice bloke.

“We can’t believe he’s gone and are still in shock. We’ll really miss him. He was a friend to everyone and nobody ever had a bad word to say about him. I feel the loss as not only a chairman but as a friend.”

Tributes continued from a former colleague who described Mr Cranwell as the ideal mould from which a perfect worker could be created.

Bill Ransom, Operations Engineer at Middle Level, said: “He was a brilliant and extremely accomplished designer and went about his work with little fuss.

“If you could make a mould of a perfect worker you would be pleased if it was like Doug. He was respected in his job and as a person.

“Like anything you didn’t appreciate just how good he was until he left. He was the first person I met when I came here and he was so nice to me, he really helped me settle in.”

March Bears Rugby Club chairman, Barry Feetham, also paid tribute to Mr Cranwell, a former vice-president of the club and his son Stephen a former player.

Mr Feetham said: “He was a very nice man, a true gentleman.

“He always had time for people, was very polite, articulate and dedicated in what he did. He was one of those guys you would have wanted in the trenches with you.

“I can’t give enough praise for the type of bloke he was. He was a pleasure to know.”

Ely City, who postponed their game on Wednesday against CRC as a mark of respect to Mr Cranwell, will pay tribute to him at their game on Saturday against Kirkley & Pakefield.

Richard said: “The family would like to pass on their sincere thanks and gratitude to the emergency services who showed tremendous professionalism in everything they did.

“Also special thanks to the A&E and intensive care staff of Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridgeshire Road Policing unit for their support to the family.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter