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Ashford Sunday league football chairman choked to death on holiday in Lake District


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A hugely popular Sunday league chairman choked to death while on holiday in the Lake District.

Alan Speakman, 75, passed away in hospital in Carlisle after falling ill during a meal.

Alan and Patricia Speakman on one of the many wildlife holidays they enjoyed together. Picture: Patricia Speakman
Alan and Patricia Speakman on one of the many wildlife holidays they enjoyed together. Picture: Patricia Speakman

Now mourners at his funeral have raised more than £1,000 for wildlife charity The Aspinall Foundation.

The family of animal-lover Alan Speakman, who was chairman of the Ashford & District Sunday Football League, asked that well-wishers give a donation to conservation charity in lieu of flowers.

Outside of his love for the beautiful game, the 75-year-old was passionate about wildlife and travelled the world with his wife Patricia to experience exotic creatures in the natural environment.

Born and bred in Ashford, Mr Speakman was well known in sporting circles thanks to his long involvement with the grassroots game in the town.

Paying tribute to her husband at his funeral at Charing Crematorium earlier this month, Patricia said: "Alan was my amazing husband, best friend and soulmate.

"We were fortunate enough to travel to India, Sri Lanka, Borneo and Costa Rica to see the animals there but Africa, and particularly Kenya, was the destination of choice and the first lodges we stayed at in Tsavo East National Park remained our favourites.

"Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana were close behind. The lions of the Maasai Mara held a special place in Alan's heart."

Alan Speakman was a passionate fan of Arsenal. Picture: Patricia Speakman
Alan Speakman was a passionate fan of Arsenal. Picture: Patricia Speakman
Alan Speakman (back row, second from right) in the Willesborough Primary School football team in the 1956-57 season. Picture: Patricia Speakman
Alan Speakman (back row, second from right) in the Willesborough Primary School football team in the 1956-57 season. Picture: Patricia Speakman

Mr Speakman passed away on September 19 and leaves son Paul, three grandchildren and wife Patricia.

The couple met at the Methodist Youth Club in Bank Street when they were just 15 and were later married on October 14, 1967, Patricia's 21st birthday.

Mr Speakman was born on August 17, 1946, and his love of football started young when he was a pupil at Willesborough Primary School and turned out for the school team.

He started work in the office of Kent Wool Growers in the office when he was 16 and worked there for 32 years, during which time he became company secretary.

Alan Speakman (back row, centre) in the Prince Albert Sunday league football team. Picture: Patricia Speakman
Alan Speakman (back row, centre) in the Prince Albert Sunday league football team. Picture: Patricia Speakman

In 1997 he began work at the Stafford House Tutorial College, Canterbury, in the finance department and worked there until his retirement in 2011.

An avid fan Arsenal fan, his involvement with local football started as a player for teams including Willesborough Millers and the Prince Albert, and he was league chairman and treasurer for almost 40 years.

League president Geoff Stanborough said: "Alan had a calm and unflustered personality and his passing away has left a massive gap to fill within the Ashford & District Sunday league following his outstanding service.

"Alan was well known to everyone in the footballing world, as a true supporter of Arsenal FC, a local spectator every week to a Sunday morning football league game, and finally also a visitor to one of the local football club's pubs to enjoy a pint after each game."

In 2017, Mr Speakman was recognised by the Kent FA for his 50-year service and commitment to grassroots football in the county.

Sam Campbell receiving the donation from Patricia Speakman. Picture: Aspinall Foundation
Sam Campbell receiving the donation from Patricia Speakman. Picture: Aspinall Foundation

Mrs Speakman visited Port Lympne this week to present the generous donations to the charity.

Sam Campbell, Aspinall Foundation individual giving manager, said: "We are humbled to receive these donations in memory of Alan Speakman and would like to thank his wife Patricia for meeting us to present us with the generous contribution.

"After learning of their lifelong love of nature and the incredible trips across the world they enjoyed, these donations will certainly be used in a fitting way, protecting endangered animals around the world."

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