Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

TRAGEDY FIRE PROBE; Police Investigate as Much-Loved OAP Dies: BLAZE IS PROBED

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

TRAGEDY FIRE PROBE; Police Investigate as Much-Loved OAP Dies: BLAZE IS PROBED

Article excerpt

Byline: KAREN FAUGHEY

A MUCH-LOVED pensioner who died in a suspicious fire at her Teesside home has been described as a "spiritual grandma" to everyone at her local church. Pat Thompson, 86, was declared dead after firefighters pulled her from a blaze at her home in Emma Simpson Court, Hartburn, on Saturday night. Firefighters arrived on the scene at 11.30pm. Neighbours said smoke could be seen billowing out of her semi-detached bungalow. Cleveland Fire Brigade today confirmed that the fire is being treated as suspicious. Mrs Thompson's friends at the Tees Valley Community Church, in Eaglescliffe, spoke of their shock yesterday and described how she was "loved by young and old". Church Minister Martin Dunkley said: "Pat was just the kindest and most pleasant person you could meet. She was always the same and she always had a smile.

"She was a great encouragement to me and to huge numbers of our congregation. She was such a positive person that whoever came into contact with her just felt their days were brighter for it. "She was a very committed Christian and she didn't just attend church, she was the church. She was like a spiritual grandma to our congregation. "We are incredibly sad and shocked at the manner of her death. Lots of people saw her yesterday. Suddenly you turn round and she's gone." Mrs Thompson was a member of the Tees Valley Community Church for more than 30 years - during which time she was heavily involved in youth work, visiting the sick, baking and music events. Sylvia Mills, a member of the church's leadership team, said: "Everyone's very shocked and some of her elder friends are very distressed at the manner in which it happened, but we are just grateful for her life. "Her family are greatly loved here and our hearts go out to them.

She was a very family orientated lady." Residents in the Harlsey Road area of Hartburn were equally shocked and upset by the fire, which was tended to by crews from Stockton and Thornaby. …

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