Villagers mourning Frampton-on-Severn man Neil Eaketts, 42
VILLAGERS are mourning the death of a popular man whose body was found in a canal yesterday.
After Neil Eaketts disappeared from his Frampton-on-Severn home last Tuesday, Gloucestershire police appealed for anyone who had seen him to contact them.
But a man and a woman walking a dog next to the Gloucester Sharpness Canal spotted his body in the water at 8am yesterday.
They alerted a canal worker nearby, who dialled 999.
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Mr Eaketts was 42 years old.
"He was a thoroughly nice chap and he had done a lot for the sports and social club," said former Frampton-on-Severn parish council chairman John Howe.
"He was an assistant steward there and did a very fine job. He was a really nice lad.
"I am terribly sorry to hear this news. It's very sad indeed."
Mr Eaketts played skittles for the Bell Hotel team at the village pub, The Bell Inn for many years.
Ryan Stopford, who works at the pub, said he was a popular man in the village.
"He was very well known in what is a tight-knit community," he said.
"It's very sad. When he served in the sports and social club, people would always have a laugh and joke with him."
At approximately 8am Mr Eaketts' body was discovered in the water near to The Pilot Inn pub in Hardwicke.
Formal identification has not yet taken place but the coroner and Mr Eaketts' next of kin have been informed. His death is not being treated as suspicious.
He was last seen at his home in Frampton-on-Severn on the evening of Tuesday September 24 when he left his home in The Oval at around 10.20pm.
It is believed he may have been at the Tesco store in Quedgeley before he died. A Hardwicke resident, who did not wish to be named, said she heard sirens and feared the worst.
"We didn't know what was going on then we heard later what had happened," she said. "I didn't know the person but my thoughts are with his family."