Chesterfield’s market horse man loses cancer fight

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The man who welcomed visitors to Chesterfield with his much-loved market horse, Ben, has died in hospital after losing his battle with cancer.

Thomas ‘Sonny’ Thorpe, died in hospital, aged 74, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in January this year.

He was admitted to Chesterfield Royal shortly after his diagnosis, but was later transferred to Clay Cross Hospital where he passed away last Thursday morning.

Donna Clark – the wife of Mr Thorpe’s nephew and owner of the market horses – has paid tribute to a man who has, over the years, become a familiar face on Chesterfield Market.

She said: “We are going to miss him terribly, but we are just relieved that he is no longer suffering.

“He loved those horses so much. He was always out wanting to spent time with them. He loved being on the market, with Ben and Sam.”

Mr Thorpe, of Bestwood Park, Clay Cross, who was known as Sonny to his friends, started working with the market horses in Chesterfield six years ago, and stayed in the role until falling ill.

One of his last wishes was to see his beloved horses before he died, which was granted him by members of staff at Clay Cross Hospital.

Ward manager, Rita Snowdon, said: “Our patient’s family enquired if they could bring Ben to see his owner one last time at the hospital. After negotiations and planning we managed to pull off the special visit.”

Mrs Clark, added: “He loved it. He was overwhelmed to see his horses.”

The market horse was at the centre of controversy earlier this year, when Chesterfield Borough Council moved to retire the much-loved attraction, sparking outrage across the town.

But fans of the attraction have this week paid their respects to Sonny. One, Dean Hallsworth, said: “R.I.P town won’t be the same without the horse and cart”. Julie Rushby, added: “Sonny you were a legend. God bless you old friend.”

Mr Thorpe will be buried at Danesmoor cemetery on Friday, following a service astClay Cross Methodist Church at 10.30am.