A DAUGHTER who lost both her mum and dad within weeks has spoken of the couple’s devotion to one another.

Ann Clarke, 82, died of a heart condition in January and on February 24 – just four days after her funeral – her loving 84-year-old husband Mike suffered a stroke and followed her.

The Clarkes had been married for 57 years and daughter Sally said losing both of them had come as an “incredible shock”.

But she added: “I have to say as soon as it sunk in a little bit I got great comfort in that they were together. That is what he wanted as he was a romantic at heart.

“My dad spent all day with my mum the week before she passed and he wouldn’t leave the room, he was very devoted.

“My dad was very keen to get my mum’s ashes buried in Bishopstone church. The house that they lived in looks over the churchyard, he wanted to see where she was buried from the house.

“I kind of had an intuition on the day before he died, so I went over to the churchyard and phoned him to direct me from there to where he wanted her ashes placed.

“He was directing me ‘left a bit, right a bit’ it was almost comical. So, we picked a spot and booked the vicar in, I just had a very strong sense that dad wanted that all sorted.

“He kept talking about when he was going to join her, he was pleased that we’d got that sorted. If you’d have told me the next day that he would have passed I wouldn’t have believed you.

Did he know that he’d be going so soon? I don’t think so, but I think he knew that he wanted to get everything sorted before joining her.

“They were the love of each other’s lives, mum just looked after him and he was devoted to her.”

Although they spent more than five decades together, it was a romance Sally said almost never happened.

“They met at a dance and were going to meet again but Dad got sent on national service for two years to Singapore,” said Sally. “So mum presumed they probably wouldn’t see each other again and that was that.

“But then mum had gone on holiday to Butlins and won the national Miss Holiday competition and a friend of my dad’s sent him clippings of the story while he was away which helped remind him of how beautiful she was.

“So, when he came back from national service, he went and found her at the Locarno dance hall. She was dancing with someone, my dad cut in and the rest was history.”

The couple married on April 3, 1961 and went on to have two children, Sally in 1968 and son Nick in 1972.

Mike trained as a mechanic and set up a business with his friend Graham Rodway at a garage in Great Bedwyn, near Marlborough. They had great success before eventually going on to open ‘Clarke & Rodway’ before he retired from the business in 2001 with his son Nick taking over the company.

Ann was a legal secretary and also a keep-fit teacher and would don brightly-coloured leotards to lead groups of ladies in various village halls in the area. She then went to work part-time at Morrisons & Masters, first as a legal secretary then as office manager.

Sally said: “Dad was quite a romantic at heart because on the day of his marriage he said he would return to the church on their 40th anniversary, and they did exactly that.

“It was lovely, they renewed their vows with only close family present, and I found it so touching that he had kept that promise for all those years.

“Mum was very chatty, very kind, very considerate, she loved people and loved being a grandmother. She loved her grandchildren.

“Dad was more reserved, strong-willed with a wry sense of humour but equally just as kind.

"They really were the heart of the family.”