Tributes have been pouring in to Ken and Dorothy Swallow who died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning during a power cut over Christmas.
Mr Swallow, aged 70, was a former football club manager for Ansty Rangers, Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath football clubs. His wife, Dorothy, aged 71, helped with fund-raising and social events.
The couple, who lived on the outskirts of Hurstpierpoint and had three children and six grand-children, were described by a player who knew them well as “two of the nicest people you could hope to meet”.
The Swallows were found by family members at their home on Boxing Day.
Their son, Nigel, said that due to a power cut, a generator had been put on, on Christmas Day afternoon to ensure that cold and frozen food did not go off. The Swallows went out, enjoying Christmas with relatives and returned at about midnight.
Nigel said: “They turned the generator off on their return. They rang my sister and mentioned they’d turned it off but obviously it had not been properly ventilated during the afternoon and evening and fumes that had built up during the day were present.”
A police spokesman confirmed that carbon monoxide poisoning was suspected and that there “were no suspicious circumstances.”
Nigel and his sisters, Daryl and Lisa paid tribute to their parents’ zest for life: “We as children were lucky enough to have very loving parents whose emphasis whilst we grew up was to have fun as a family together as much as possible. This continued with their role as grandparents.
“We all have many fantastic and fond memories that bring smiles and laughter to us at this sad time. They will be sorely missed, but always loved.”
Before his retirement, Mr Swallow had worked as a financial director at Charles of the Ritz, latterly known as YvesSaintLaurent, in Burgess Hill.
Dorothy was described by Stewart Tippler, a former Haywards Heath Town and Ansty Rangers player as: “A lovely, bubbly character who got on with everyone and always had a smile on her face. Ken and Dorothy were always giving and helping others. They were two of the nicest people you could hope to meet.”
John Buck, a lifetime member of Burgess Hill Football Club, added: “When we heard the news we were devastated.
“Ken was a larger than life, charismatic character who would light up a room. Everyone liked him. I’ve even heard from someone in Australia who was so shocked by the news. Ken signed for Burgess Hill in 1973 and played until 1977 when he was forced to retire with an eye injury. He had two spells as club manager and when Ken was there we won the league of course.”
Ken Carter, who was manager of the Burgess Hill County League winning team of 1976 in which Ken played, said: “You couldn’t wish to meet two nicer people than Ken and his wife Dorothy. It was devastating news.”
An inquest into their deaths was opened and adjourned last Friday.
An emergency planning officer, Inspector Andy Kundert, has warned of the necessity of making sure that anything that burns fuel, such as generators or camping stoves, is well ventilated.
The couple’s funeral will take place at Woodvale Crematorium, Brighton on Monday at 10.45am. Family Flowers only but donations, if desired, to ‘CDAFSW’ (Chichester Diocesan Association For Family Support Work), may be sent c/o Masters and Son, Lewes Road, Lindfield, RH16 2LE.