THE family of a local gamekeeper who died suddenly have raised more than £3,000 in his memory.
Stephen Vale died from ischemic heart disease at the age of 56.
Instead of flowers, his family asked for funeral guests to donate to the British Heart Foundation, raising a phenomenal £3,566.27.
Mr Vale, originally from Suffolk, became a gamekeeper at the age of 16.
His family received a posthumous award for his outstanding contribution and long service to the vocation, having worked at the same shooting lodge for more than 35 years.
Mr Vale worked at the Eling Estate in Hermitage and at the Cornbury Park estate, near Charlbury, Oxfordshire.
His family and friends celebrated his life and raised funds for the BHF’s lifesaving research.
Mr Vale’s daughter, Helen Wigley, said: “My father will be sorely missed and we hope that this donation will help towards the BHF’s research so that others don’t have to go through the same situation as us.
“We are delighted to have raised an incredible £3,566.27 and thank everyone who donated.”
Every three minutes someone loses their life to heart and circulatory disease.
BHF fundraising manager for Berkshire Lewis Honeywill said: “We are sorry to have learnt about Stephen’s passing and never cease to be humbled by the selflessness of people like the Vale family, who have at this tough time thought about the BHF and raised an incredible £3,566.27, which we will use to forward our pioneering and lifesaving research.
“We urgently need more people to join our fight for every heartbeat and help power our life-saving research.
“That’s why we’re calling on everyone across the UK to organise their own fundraising event to help support our vital work.
“Hold an event today, tomorrow or in the future so that we can continue in our fight to reduce the number of people taken from their families prematurely.”
For a fundraising pack with tips, sign up for free by visiting www.bhf.org.uk/yourway