MR MATSON Stephen Dix would have revelled in the glowing tributes that have poured in since the larger than life character passed away aged just 55.
Stephen, known by many people as ‘Dixy’, was the beating heart of the Matson community who went out of his way to help those around him.
The husband to Christine, and father of Jonathan and Tracey, was a well loved grandfather to five who all helped care for him during the last few months of his life.
Christine met her future husband during her time working in the former Farm Fayre cafe in Clarence Street, and the couple began courting with regular trips to the cinema.
They married in 1978 and would be together for 38 years.
Dixy was often at the centre of things at the Catherine Wheel Club, and drew fame when he pulled some Romanian squatters free from a burning building in Park End Road. He was awarded a certificate marking his heroics at the time.
Christine said: “Stephen used to go to bingo with his step dad and it was when he was coming out of Mecca that he saw the building on fire.
“They went in there and rescued these Romanians who were in there, one man was on fire. It was a squat and he didn’t think about his own safety. He got a bravery certificate for it at the time.
“He was a big hearted man. He came in from work once and I began to cut his hair. A few minutes later there was a knock at the door and a neighbour wanted help with his car. Stephen got up and went straight out the door to help, still in his slippers and with half a haircut. He didn’t care.
“Seeing his friends and family near the end of his life was very important for him and made him happy.”
Stephen was diagnosed with heart problems five years ago, his condition then developed into chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
Daughter Tracey, 32, said the family have been left with so many memories and stories to be retold, there was never a dull moment.
“I used to go everywhere with dad,” she said.
“He used to call the bingo at the Catherine Wheel Club, but because he had this sleep apnea, he used to fall asleep whilst calling the numbers out. We still laugh about it now, he was either outside smoking, or falling asleep.
“That’s what made him fun, dad was a big character.
“Dad used to do a lot of fundraising for the club and dressed up as a town crier once.
“He had a heart of gold and would help anyone, but he was a bit rough and ready. He once came second in the scruffiest man competition in Gloucester.
“Mum’s house is like a card shop and we have had so many messages on Facebook. They are calling him the Matson legend.”
Stephen was well known for his ‘sooty’ van, a little blue pickup, and worked all over the country on the marquees with Attwoolls.
A memorial service is being held on Tuesday at St Oswalds Church in Coney Hill, starting at 1.30pm. All are welcome with the family asking for any donations to be made to the British Heart Foundation.
The family would like to thank the palliative care nurses who looked after Stephen so well. A wake will be held after the service at Matson RFC.