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Police hero Derek given fitting farewell

By Luke Bartlett | Cradley Heath | News | Published:

He spent 32 years in the police force and once saved a woman and her baby from a burning flat.

But Cradley Heath man Derek Blakeway will be most remembered for his love for classical music and Mozart – says his wife Margaret.

Scores of Mr Blakeway's friends and family turned out at Lawrence Lane Methodist Church in Cradley Heath last Monday to say their final farewells to the 82-year-old.

Mrs Blakeway, 79, who said the couple would have been married for 59 years in April, said: "It was a lovely day considering the weather.

"He always said if Winston Churchill can have a grave and a tombstone then so can I – I have had a double plot so I can be buried with him.

"He was a very intelligent man and he was well read, he loved every type of classical music and if he heard a piece on the radio he could tell you the artist.

"He really liked people – he was a very well rounded man. We have had 60 cards in sympathy sent through."

On April Fools Day in 1964 Derek went above and beyond his duty when he saved a mother and her three-month-old baby from a fire.

The blaze made its way through the house in Cape Hill, Smethwick, but not before Derek negotiated 7ft high flames to rescue the mother and baby.

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Mrs Blakeway said: "I could smell the smoke on his uniform – he did not think he had done anything out of the normal.

"At the time the paper reported on it saying that 'a three month old Jamaican baby was snatched from a blazing fire. Flames were ten foot high.'

"I was proud. I kept associating that with the fact we had got a six month old baby.

"It turns out the woman had got an oil heater drying clothes. Derek would never make a big splash about it.

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"He was a real family man, he was very proud of his sons and he always put us first."

Mr Blakeway, a police constable based in Smethwick and West Bromwich between 1955 and 1987, was also a keen sportsman – playing football, cricket for Staffordshire County, and also boxing.

After Derek and Margaret tied the knot in April 1959, the pair went on to have two sons John and Michael and a granddaughter named Alice.

Luke Bartlett

By Luke Bartlett
Trainee Reporter - @lbartlett_star

Trainee Express & Star reporter covering Dudley and Sandwell. Get in touch on 01902 319445 or via luke.bartlett@expressandstar.co.uk.

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