A man died while working to fulfil his ambition to establish a holiday home for people in need of assisted care in France.

Wrexham AFC fan and Disabled Supporters Association volunteer Neil Dobie, 49, was enjoying life in France and working to turn a farmhouse into a holiday home when he suffered an accident in March last year.

He had been out drinking and playing darts with friends and after returning home for the night, he fell on the spiral staircase at the farmhouse in the Limousin region and suffered a skull fracture and a bleed in his brain.

His friend Steve Smith, a ski instructor working in Italy, heard a thud when they returned to the farmhouse and he found Mr Dobie at the bottom of the staircase on his back. He was unable to move him and, as he could hear groans he interpreted as resulting from Mr Dobie being inebriated, he turned him on to his side, put a rucksack beneath his head, and covered him with a duvet.

Shortly after, he said in a statement read at the inquest at Wrexham's Guildhall, Mr Smith went to bed, noting that he could see one of Mr Dobie's feet sticking out from beneath the duvet.

When he woke the next morning, March 9, he immediately saw Mr Dobie's foot in the same position and thought "oh my god, he hasn't moved" before alerting a neighbour and then paramedics and the police.

Mr Smith regularly stayed with Mr Dobie when he was returning home to Scotland from Italy.

He said: "Over the years Neil had become a very good friend.

"He was selfless, he would do anything for anyone."

Coroner for North Wales East and Central, John Gittins reassured Mr Dobie's family that, due to the severity of the injuries, there was "nothing anyone could have done" even if they had acted immediately after he fell and the process would have been very quick.

In a statement from Neil's mother Janet, who was present at the inquest held on Thursday with other family members, said her son had cared for people with learning difficulties while working for Kent Council. He would often accompany them on holidays and, it was during this time, that he realised that much of the accommodation used was not up to standard.

He set himself the goal of creating a holiday home adapted to people's needs and used his own funds and hard work to make it a reality.

She added that Mr Dobie was looking forward to returning home again to see family and meet his daughter Emily's partner.

The coroner took time at the end of the inquest to pay tribute to Mr Dobie.

He told Neil's family: "What is very clear is that this was a good man with his heart very much in the right place."

When he died, he was living in the place he wanted to be working to achieve his ambition.

Mr Gittins added: "You should be very proud of him."

A conclusion of accidental death was recorded.

The Leader:

A minute's applause for Neil Dobie.

After Mr Dobie's death, a minute’s applause was held in the 49th minute during the Reds game against Braintree at the Racecourse.

Mr Dobie, originally from Knutsford, would regularly visit family in Wrexham, attend games and help out during matches.