Wife and children of selfless and caring family-man, Spurs fan and school governor pay tribute after Royston fire engine crash tragedy

Mitchell Bailey.

Mitchell Bailey. - Credit: Archant

The family of a 58-year-old man from Royston who died in the fatal fire engine crash in the town last week have today paid tribute to the selfless and caring family-man, Spurs fan and school governor.

Pedestrian Mitchell Bailey sadly died when a fire engine on an emergency call crashed at the Old North Road roundabout as it was turning into Burns Road on Wednesday last week.

Mitchell was born and raised in Hackney and was the second of five children. He trained as an electrician at college during his late teens before moving to Royston with his family when he was 21.

In 1985, Mitchell started working at chemical firm Johnson Matthey in Orchard Road and enjoyed more than 30 years with the company before retiring in 2016.

In the same year he started work at Johnson Matthey, he married his wife Carol who he had met through his sister Tracey.

“It turned out that we lived just round the corner from each other when we were growing up in London but never met,” said Carol, 51.

The couple shared their first date at the local cinema in Royston and, when it closed down several years later, Mitchell recreated the occasion by purchasing a row of the cinema chairs and setting them up at home.

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“Ever since then there were always flowers in the hallway,” said wife Carol.

“I could send him out to the shops and he’d forget to buy half the stuff, but would always remember to get flowers for me.”

The couple had three children, Charlotte, Alyce and George.

“Dad would always take care of mum,” said 30-year-old Charlotte, who has a two-year-old daughter called Ayda and is currently expecting her second child.

“He would always get up and make her a cup of coffee in the morning, even on his days off. He would also make us breakfast in bed.

“He was a real fact man and had a fact about everything.”

Newly engaged Alyce, 27, said: “He was also really good at numbers, he could remember all our national insurance cards off by heart! And if you ever had a DIY problem, he would come and fix it straight away.”

Mitchell was well-known in the community through working at Johnson Matthey, regular trips to the town and his role as a governor at Roman Way Primary School, a position he held for around 15 years.

Wife Carol said: “He used to go in and help with the reading while George was a pupil. He felt he could do something more for the school between his shifts at work so he became a parent governor and later went on to become the chair of governors. We never realised just how much he helped the school, he wasn’t one for seeking praise.”

Outside of work and his duties as a school governor, Mitchell’s hobbies included golf, football and photography.

“He loved watching football,” said Charlotte, the eldest child.

“He was an avid Spurs fan attending his first game on September 21, 1968, when he saw Spurs beat Nottingham Forest 2-1.”

George, 21, said: “He’d take thousands of photos and then show them all to us. There were often hundreds of photos of the same thing but he loved taking them.

“We’d often lose him when we went out somewhere as he’d be stopping to take photos all the time.”

Mitchell and Carol would also regularly attend shows with their four dogs – three boxers and a Boston terrier.

“That was something that we always did together and loved doing,” said Carol.

Mitchell, who recently excelled at a super recogniser test he saw advertised online, was also a keen baker.

“He loved baking – his favourite was lemon drizzle cake. He used to call himself ‘Mitchy Berry’ and would always ask us to give him a mark out of 10 when he cooked! He loved having us all round for dinner,” Alyce recalled.

George added: “He would go to a lot of effort when it came to food. He wouldn’t just make a quick sandwich for you – he would cook a whole steak and make proper steak sandwiches and everything would be presented perfectly.”

The family also enjoyed several holidays together, their favourite of which was a trip to Florida in 2009, as they ‘laughed constantly for two weeks’.

Charlotte said: “We always tried to regularly do something as a family. Dad loved it when everyone was together.”

Carol added: “Mitchell was just a really good man and had a great sense of humour. He was selfless and always put others first. He loved his family and also had lots of friends – we could go to the other side of the world and he’d end up seeing someone he knew!”

Mitchell’s funeral will be held at Cambridge Crematorium, at 12 noon next Thursday, February 2.