Tributes have been pouring in for Exmouth Musical Theatre Company life member Val Clarke, from Exmouth, who died after a short illness.

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The husband of ‘vibrant and vivacious’ Val Clarke has led tributes to a ‘cherished’ wife, mother and grandmother who was the ‘rock’ of the family.

Mum-of-two Val, died in hospital aged 67 after a short illness.

Husband Mike has spoken of his wife’s ‘infectious energy and warmth’ which drew people to Val.

Married for more than 40 years, Mike said there was an ‘instant attraction’ when he and Val first met in the Volunteer Inn, many decades ago.

He said: “She was a very vibrant, vivacious woman.

“I cherished and adored her. I had great respect for her.

“She was her own person. I love Val for all those qualities.”

Born to Bert and Maud King, in Exeter, Val moved to Exmouth when she was five years old, with the family setting up home in The Colony.

Young Val soon became part of the community as her parents ran Rosebery Stores, in Rosebery Road. The youngster, who was christened at All Saints Church, in Exeter Road, remembered food rationing continuing at the shop long after the end of World War Two.

Val was a pupil at Exeter Road School, later moving to the Girls’ Secondary Modern School, on the site of the current community college.

There she played netball and also joined the school choir. Val’s love of music went on to become a life-long passion. She made many friends at school, who she remained close to throughout her life.

Leaving school, Val secured her first job at Beswicks, in Camperdown Terrace, manufacturing electrical components.

She later went on to work at Sandy Bay holiday park before moving to Rolle College, starting as a kitchen assistant. Latterly she worked in the halls of residence, and made many firm friends with the scores of students who passed through.

Mike said: “She liked growing up in Exmouth; the community and the area.

“She made life-long friends which she cherished.”

Mike and Val married in a low-key ceremony at Exeter’s registry office and were blessed with two boys, Scott and Andrew.

The family lived in Littleham, with Val working in the Clinton Arms.

In 1981 they moved to Salterton Road then later to Maer Lane, where the family home and business remains today.

When the couple’s sons grew up, Val was left with time on her hands and turned to her love of music as a hobby.

Joining Exmouth Operatic Society, later becoming Exmouth Musical Theatre Company (EMCO) as a soprano, Val’s love and enthusiasm for the group resulted in her eventually being made chairman – hitting the headlines as first woman chairman of Exmouth.

In 2011 Val, who was made life member of EMCO, was thanked for her many years of commitment shown to the company when she was presented with a People of Exmouth Award.

Praise was heaped on Val for going the extra mile for the community.

Val’s life was not without tragedy. In September 2003, her sister, Marjorie Egglestone, 66, and brother-in-law Eric, 72, were murdered by robbers at their home in Zimbabwe.

Val is survived by her husband, Mike, children Scott and Andrew, and grandchildren, Jodie, Harriet, Daniel and Liam.

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