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Woodville truck driver who became a national celebrity has passed away

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 02, 2014

  • TRAGIC . . . Neil Smith with his mother Denise.

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RELATIVES of a truck driver who became a national celebrity after being pulled over by police 22 times for looking too young to take the wheel have paid tribute to the 30-year-old following his sudden death.

The family of Neil Smith, of Thorn Street Mews, Woodville, said they were in ‘absolute shock’ over the tragedy.

Mr Smith was catapulted to fame 13 years ago when the Mail revealed he was constantly being stopped by the police because he looked too young to drive, despite being 17-years-old.

After the story broke he was bombarded with calls from the national media, including The Sun newspaper, and appeared on GMTV and Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast, as well as Central News and BBC Radio Five.

He did not let his youthful appearance stop him from pursuing his dream and became an HGV driver, latterly working for Emerson’s.

A fleet of lorries will be leading his coffin in a procession from his home to St George and St Mary’s Church, Church Gresley, for his funeral on Saturday, August 9.

His mother, Denise King, who lost another son, Lee, in a car crash in 2000, said: “He was always so happy and always joking and having a laugh.

“He couldn’t be serious.

“In all the photos of him he is always smiling.”

His stepfather Nigel King said: “It has been an absolutely horrendous shock. Everyone says the same, that they just cannot believe this has happened.”

Mr Smith was found at home on Saturday and died in hospital on Monday. His family has since been inundated with messages of condolence.

The funeral procession will leave Mr Smith’s home at 9.45am before reaching the church at 10am, followed by a wake at The Box Club, in High Street, Woodville, from 11.30am.

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