Bures: Village in mourning after man, 54, killed in road tragedy

VILLAGERS have spoken of their grief and loss after the death of a much loved man, football manager and grandfather.

John Handley, 54, from Bures, was killed in a two-vehicle collision in West Bergholt on Sunday after he went to the aid of a friend who had run out of petrol.

In the village where he spent most of his life - after moving there as a young child from Birmingham - his friends and former colleagues said the village had lost a great character.

At the Three Horseshoes Pub, where Mr Handley was a regular up until his death, landlady Pat Mulcahy, said: “He was an extraordinarily kind man who would help everyone out whenever they needed it. He was probably the most well-known man in the village and no-one could have a bad word to say about him.

“He worked for me many years ago and would often hold court here, telling funny stories and having everyone in stitches. The village will not be the same without him.”

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The pub held a candlelight vigil on Monday night in honour of the former bank worker, taxi driver and village postman, who was planning to start a new job as a care worker.

Julian Ford, from Bures, a friend of Mr Handley since their school days, spoke of a particular moment that cemented his admiration for him.

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“We were both mad football fans when we were kids and one weekend went to Everton for a game,” he said. “It was back in the days when there was hooligan problem and all of a sudden I was ambushed and everyone just ran off and left me. Suddenly John appeared, fought off a couple of blokes and managed to get me out of there. Since then I’ve hero worshipped the bloke. I can’t believe he’s gone – I’ve lost a great lifelong friend.”

Mr Handley was a dedicated servant of his village football club, performing numerous roles as a player, manager, coach and mentor to many of the junior players.

He also managed the Three Horseshoes Pub team.

In the village newsagent, the owner Paul, who did not want to give his surname, said: “He was an extremely funny, jolly man who would always lift your spirits. But he was also a very clever man who could finish a crossword very quickly and had a very sharp brain. He will be sorely missed.”

In the Swan Inn Pub, where Mr Handley was working while waiting to start his new job, landlord John Donnelly described the day Mr Handley was killed.

He said: “I actually passed him on the road as he was driving towards Colchester. He was going to help someone from the village who’d run out of petrol and was on his way back when the accident happened.”

Mr Donnelly said he was at the pub when he heard about the collision.

“I drove back and by the time I got there the police and paramedics were already there. It’s an absolute tragedy for his son Dennis and granddaughter and a terrible loss for all of us,” he added.

Mr Handley died after his red Suzuki Wagon collided with silver Audi A4 on the B1508 Bures Road at 5.20pm.

A 32-year-old man from Colchester has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and released on police bail until April 4.

Officers are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the incident to call them on 0300 3334444.

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