Tributes have been paid to a pensioner ‘with a heart of gold’ who has died following an alleged altercation at his Ilkeston home.
Friends, family and community members have described 86-year-old Derek Levers as ‘a true gentleman who loved life’.
The popular pensioner, of Station Road, enjoyed sport and travel, and even had a holiday planned for next month.
Police and paramedics were called to his home on Sunday, May 14, following reports of a dispute between Mr Levers and another person. He was found collapsed and helped by a passer-by, but sadly died in hospital the following morning.
Derek’s nephew Gary Hudson described his uncle as a ‘lovely gentleman’.
He said: “He was always doing favours for everyone and loved to travel, he was even due to go away again in June. My uncle was friendly, happy and had a real love of life.”
Grant Redfern, managing director of the nearby pawnbrokers Cash Monkey, often enjoyed the company of Derek at his shop.
He said: “Derek was the salt of Ilkeston. He was an extremely popular man, who was happy, jolly and pleasant to all.
“He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He would spend ages chatting away about everything and anything, and sharing stories.
“I know he used to swim first thing in the morning every day, and would regularly do 500 metres. Not only that, he still used to enjoy trips with elderly groups.
“And often he would stand on his doorstep and watch the comings and goings of Ilkeston.”
Margaret Harris, who had known Derek for more than 20 years, added: “He was one of the nicest men you could wish to meet – friendly and always happy to have a chat. He was a pillar of the community, always trying to keep up to date with what was going on in the town.
“He was very sociable and enjoyed talking to people, as his wife died a few years ago and he lived alone.
“But he still got out and about and kept himself entertained.
“He was an absolute gem with a heart of gold and will be sorely missed.”
Another neighbour, Louise Palai, said she would miss Derek’s friendly nature. “I lived down the road from Derek and used to pass him often, as he used to stand on his doorstep. I spoke to him only days ago, he was such a pleasant man, always smiling, saying hello and asking how I was.
“I am shocked by what has happened. It will be strange not seeing him at his door anymore,” she said.
• A 31-year-old Ilkeston man has been arrested in connection with Derek’s death and is being questioned by detectives.
Anyone with information should phone 101, quoting reference 17000201259, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.