Fiancée of Stevenage filmmaker pays tribute to her ‘soulmate’ after sudden death
- Credit: Archant
The fiancée of an award-winning filmmaker who died suddenly last week has paid tribute to her “soulmate”, describing him as an “inspiration” to many.
Mark Straker, of Bragbury End, Stevenage, died of a suspected heart attack last Thursday.
The 50-year-old, who grew up in Letchworth GC before moving to the Stevenage area after the birth of his three children, won many awards for his films, including Best Acting at the London Black Film Makers International Film Festival in 2009 for Second Chance, and a Hollywood Very Short Movie award in 2007 for Hitchin-based film One of Us.
Mr Straker, a father of three, was also the founder of Stevenage-based charity Positive Strides UK, which delivers arts programmes for young people.
Speaking about her fiancé’s sudden death, Becky Hill said: “He was generally a very healthy guy so it has come as a total shock. We’re still trying to come to terms with it.
“We’ve had a constant stream of people to the house – I didn’t realise just how many people knew Mark. We’ve had hundreds of people get in touch and I know there’s an awful lot who want to pay tribute to him.
“He was a very passionate man, and the most fantastic father you could possibly ask for. He was my soulmate.”
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About his filmmaking career, Ms Hill, 41, said: “When he was younger he won an award for his poetry, but he was always trying to get into the film industry. It was hard to get into, but he did fulfil that ambition in his life.
“He was very proud of the awards he won but he never actually wanted to be in the limelight, preferring to be behind the camera rather than in front of it.”
Mr Straker also used his skills to engage with young people, setting up Positive Strides in 2004.
“There were so many children he came across around the Stevenage area that were disengaged with education and he was trying to find ways of engaging with them through music and film,” said Ms Hill. “Even though he was producing films, he never forgot the children and had recently attended projects at Marriotts School in Stevenage and Brandles School in Baldock, which supports boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties.”
As well as film, writing, music and Caribbean food, Mr Straker’s other passion was football. He supported Spurs and regularly attended matches with his family as a means of “winding down”.
Ms Hill added: “He was the most inspirational, bubbly character and achieved so many things that our children can be proud of. We hope to continue his charity work as a legacy to him.”
Mr Straker’s funeral will be held at 12.30pm on Monday, November 4, at Harwood Park Crematorium in Stevenage. The wake will follow afterwards at The Bull pub in Watton-at-Stone.
A special tribute is also taking place on Saturday as part of Celebrate!!! – an annual concert at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage celebrating multi-culturalism which Mr Straker helped set up.
Mr Straker is survived by Ms Hill and their three children.