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Parents tell of spirited son's life

PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

THE parents of one of the boys killed in the fire at Felixstowe have today paid an emotional tribute to their free-spirited son.

His parents Chris and Eve Stokes, from Bawdsey, near Woodbridge, said they were proud the eldest of their six children had crammed so much into his life.

THE parents of one of the boys killed in the fire at Felixstowe have today paid an emotional tribute to their free-spirited son.

His parents Chris and Eve Stokes, from Bawdsey, near Woodbridge, said they were proud the eldest of their six children had crammed so much into his life.

The teenager had recently returned from a trip to Thailand and was working at The Ramsholt Arms pub in Shottisham to raise money to travel to Australia and New Zealand later in the year.

His father, who is a Suffolk Constabulary officer based at Martlesham, near Ipswich, said William was a deep thinker who enjoyed helping others and loved reading.

He also recalled how his son enjoyed helping on board 107ft gaff ketch Queen Galadrial on two trips organised by Maldon-based Cirdan Sailing Trust, which helps young people experience sailing.

William, a former pupil of New Street Primary School and Farlingaye High School, both in Woodbridge, was born in Plymouth before the family moved to Suffolk.

"He was quite a deep thinking person, he loved Shakespeare and poetry and he was very good at English. But he was still not really clear what he wanted to do, I was only speaking to him about it on Tuesday," said Mr Stokes.

He added that William's brother Tom, 16, and sisters Rebecca, who is 18 today, Jessica, 14, Laura, 12 and Grace, nine, were all deeply shocked by their elder brother's death.

Mrs Stokes said: "He was the eldest and they always looked up to him, he was always around, they didn't expect to lose their brother."

An active member of the local cadets he travelled as a 16-year-old to Canada for an Army trip after being chosen by the Ministry of Defence.

"There was a bit of conflict at school but he did quite well in his exams, he liked learning and loved reading, but what he wanted to do was join the Army," his mother said.

"He got good GCSEs and an 'A' in English A-level, but he loved reading and loved Shakespeare and the war poets like Frost. He was into Buddhism perhaps he picked that up in Thailand."

The Stokes said neighbours and friends have rallied round to help the family come to terms with their loss and William's death has been felt by everyone in the village.

Mr Stokes said: "We have lived here for four years, out here people get to know each other, people have been very friendly and helpful."

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