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‘Free spirit’ who will be missed
7:00pm Saturday 22nd September 2012 in New Forest News
TRIBUTES have flooded in for a well-loved homeless man supported by residents and kind-hearted traders.
Wanderer Cliff Cunningham, 57, who slept rough in Christchurch but was well-known in Ringwood, died in Bournemouth Hospital.
The popular nomad spent much of his childhood in Malta before moving back to Hampshire, where he left school at the age of 15 to start travelling.
Despite passing several O-levels, the conventional life was not for him and he moved around the UK and through Europe on his bicycle, and spent time working in Israel on a kibbutz.
Postcards would be sent to family from various exotic locations and often Mr Cunningham would just turn up at home, expecting a feast, according to his sister Vanessa.
She said Cliff, who was one of five siblings, loved music, his favourites including Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and was never without his radio.
“Many people met and loved him along his travels,” Vanessa said “Many people were kind and helpful. He sometimes looked frightening and intimidating – but once you spoke to him you realised how kind and friendly he really was.”
“Many around the region were extremely kind and very understanding of his way of life.”
Many traders, including Oswald Bailey, Christchurch News in the High Street, The Cobblers in Saxon Square and William Hill all helped Cliff out when he was in town.
Special constable Brenda Traylen said: “Everyone who came to Christchurch knew him, and so many people in the town were supporting him in different ways.
“He had a mailing address at one place, others looked after his medication, some heated up food for him and did his washing. There are too many to mention.
“I was his friend. He was a lovely, lovely man and he will be much missed by everyone. Cliff was a real free spirit.”
A service of farewell will take place at Christchurch bandstand on the Quay at 12.30pm on Tuesday, September 25.
Everyone is welcome.
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