On Monday morning Mike Watkins needed a new lightbulb. He set off from his home in Rock Hill and walked into Harpers by the back entrance. He never found what he was looking for and came out of the front entrance in to Horsefair � apparently off to try his luck at Gills. For some reason Mike stepped into the road and was hit by a skip lorry. Mike�s brother-in-law Chunky Townley talked to the lorry driver later who gave this vivid account of what had happened. The driver said that as he was driving through the narrow part of Horsefair he saw Mike walk into a ladder on the pavement. The ladder toppled over and this caused Mike to step into the road. The driver tried to avoid him and although he was able to steer away (fortunately there was nothing coming the other way) Mike struck the side of the lorry which spun him around and to the ground.
Mike had received serious injuries to his chest. Linda from the Crown and Cushion knew Mike well and chatted with him as he waited on the ground for the ambulance. He was transferred carefully from the road onto a stretcher by a paramedic team who have been described as absolutely magnificent. It was Linda who alerted Mike�s wife Anne to what had happened. When Anne got through to the JR she was told Mike was very poorly and to come to the hospital urgently but it was too late - Mike died shortly afterwards.
It is so tragic that what started as the simplest of errands finished in such a heart-rending way. It was an accident that could have happened to any one of us. Who hasn�t felt a sense of danger along that stretch of narrow road as a lorry passes within inches of your arm. This was the accident that was bound to happen one day.
The family have accepted that this was a terrible accident and believe that absolutely no blame attaches to the driver who did his very best to take avoiding action in impossible circumstances.
Michael George Watkins was 73 years old He was born on 24th January 1937. He grew up in Churchill, went to Chippy School and did his National Service in the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry � spending part of the time in Cyprus. Back in civilian life Mike worked as a farrier in his father�s business � a craft he stayed with all his working life. In 1959 he married Anne Townley, daughter of a well-known and respected Chippy builder and brother of Robert (Chunky to his friends) It was a wonderful marriage that lasted 51 years. They first set up house in Distons Lane, then Churchill Road and finally in Rock Hill. Anne & Mike had two children. John developed into a fanatical enthusiast of steam Rollers and Engines. Mike used to often accompany John to Steam fairs. Their other son Martin had a child just last year and made Mike a grandad for the first time. He was so proud about that! Mike kept an allotment along the Banbury Road for years and played a fair round of golf.. He was a supremely contented man with a loving family, lots of interests and a sense of fulfilment about his own achievements.
But most of all it is striking that anyone talking about Mike Watkins tells you that it was his qualities as a gentleman that they remember more than anything else. He was fair and courteous and absolutely straight. He never acted with malice towards anyone. You could not find anyone who would have a bad word to say about Mike. He was a �good man�. And a really nice gentleman.
Our sincere condolences go to his family and friends.
Mike's funeral is on Thursday 16th. December. Cremation at Banbury Crematorium. at 1.00 pm. followed by a Thanksgiving service at St. Mary's Church, Chipping Norton at 3.00 pm.