Campaigner dies in steam engine horror

A MAN who led the fight for a new village hall was killed after he fell from the cab of a steam engine and under its wheels. Derek Cox, 71, from Brookside in Alconbury, was on his way to a steam rally in Northamptonshire on Sunday morning and was travelli

A MAN who led the fight for a new village hall was killed after he fell from the cab of a steam engine and under its wheels.

Derek Cox, 71, from Brookside in Alconbury, was on his way to a steam rally in Northamptonshire on Sunday morning and was travelling along a country road a mile from the A43 near Walgrave when the accident happened. Another man on the vehicle was left badly shocked but unhurt.

Many Alconbury residents will remember Mr Cox for being the driving force behind the building of the Memorial Hall in the village.

Ian Parrott, who has been friends with Mr Cox for several years, said: "Despite being turned down for funding twice by the Lottery, Derek kept pushing until finally securing £440,000 of funding for the hall.

"It is now used everyday by the local community and it will be a nice memorial to Derek. He was an amazing man who would stop at nothing to better the community."

Mr Cox was the first chairman of the Alconbury Neighbourhood Watch scheme and provided water and electricity for the annual village fete, which he revived when he moved to Alconbury.

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Alan Robertson, a friend for 19 years to Derek, told The Hunts Post: "He had a very strong sense of civic duty and was always trying to make the community a better place. The cost of a new village hall scared everyone off but not Derek, he worked hard to secure funding and get it built three years ago.

"It will remain a permanent reminder of Derek. He was a forthright man and that's how he got things done. He was definitely a doer and was pro-active on anything that could improve the parish."

Mr Cox moved to Alconbury from South Africa with his wife Sue and his two children. He worked in London as a head-hunter until retiring. During his retirement he served on Alconbury Parish Council for a term and was an active member of the Conservative group in Alconbury and Huntingdon for 19 years.

Parish council chairman Mark Brown added: "Derek was involved in many worthwhile activities around the village and was a great asset to the community and his loss will be keenly felt."

In his spare time Mr Cox liked to play golf at St Neots Golf Club, where he was a former treasurer. He was also interested in geography and was a member of the Royal Geographical Society. Despite having asthma he was also a keen walker and successfully ran the London Marathon 10 years ago. He also loved the countryside and was a member of the local hunt supporters club.

Sir Peter Brown, constituency agent for the Huntingdon Conservative group, said: "This is earth shattering news for everyone. Derek was well known in the community and worked hard for many charitable causes. His warmth and friendship will be missed."

A police investigation has been launched to discover how Mr Cox fell from the engine.

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