AN ELDERLY couple who died in a blaze at their home were this week described as a “lovely couple” by neighbours left shocked by the tragedy.
The couple, named locally as Beryl and Peter Goffe, were pronounced dead at the scene following the fire at their Lichfield Road, Stone home on Tuesday evening.
It came just a day before a four-hour strike by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Neighbours rushed to pay tribute to Mr and Mrs Goffe this week, who are thought to have had two children and grandchildren.
Mr Goffe was a former managing director at the Lotus shoe factory and worked there for a number of years.
Mike Barnard, who worked indi- rectly for him, told the Newsletter: "He was a real gentleman and a good man to work for."
Marion Nevitt, who lives in nearby Grange Road, said: “They were such lovely people. “I have lived here for 48 years and always used to see them walking along the road. They would always stop and speak.
“I often used to see Mr Goffe out with a bag and a grabber picking up litter from all along the road and they would always wave from the window when I walked past the house. They were just lovely people.
“I went cold when I heard they had died. It is such a tragedy.”
Maureen and Clo Lees, of Millwalk Avenue, said: “They were always together. In recent times she had suffered some ill health.
"I don’t think she could walk very well. We didn’t see the fire, just the fire service arriving.”
Another resident, who asked not to named, said: “They were a nice family. We have lived here for 50 years and they were here before we came.
“They were a very pleasant couple. They always said hello and our children all went to the St Michael’s School.
“I was watching TV and could hear the police cars. It is terrible, so very sad and such a shock for the family.”
A police and fire investigation has been launched into how the blaze began at around 6.25pm. It is thought to have started in a bedroom.
The couple were found on the first floor but paramedics were unable to revive them.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said it was still early days in the inves- tigation into the cause so they could not say how it started.
Rob Barber, from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “The house was smoke-logged when firefighters in breathing apparatus entered the property but there was no sign of fire.
“Two occupants were found on the first floor landing and firefighters removed the couple from the property prior to the arrival of the ambulance service.”
Neighbours rushed to pay tribute to Mr and Mrs Goffe, 85, who have had two children Simon and Jane and grandchildren.
And Stafford Borough Councillor Frank Finlay said he had worked with Mr Goffe, 86, for a number of years when he was managing director of the Lotus shoe factory in Stafford.
He said: “I had known them for 30 years. Peter was a colleague of mine on the board of directors at Lotus and was a fine upstanding man with high principles.
“He worked at Lotus for most of his life and worked his way up.
“I worked closely with him and always found him to be forthright, honest and a good person.
“I am obviously very shocked and saddened to hear that such a lovely couple died in such tragic circumstances.”
Detective Sergeant Stuart Carter from Staffordshire Police said: "Our joint inquiries at the scene with fire investigators have now concluded and have established that this was a tragic accident."
A fire service spokesman said the cause of the fire was believed to be a light fitting in a wardrobe.