Family and fans mourn smiling Mr Puniverse
10:30am Thursday 31st January 2013 in By Emma Dunn, @EmmaDunnn
Kevin Duffield, the former Mr Puniverse, collects 50p from then Swindon mayor Derique Montaut at British Telecom’s North Star Avenue car park in November 1990
IT MAY have been 30 years since Kevin Duffield shot to fame for his six stone physique, but he was still being recognised in the street before he died this month.
The 49-year-old, of Old Town, won a Late Late Breakfast Show contest in 1983 to become Mr Puniverse, a spoof of the Miss World and Mr Universe shows, which was hosted by Noel Edmonds.
The 5ft 7ins former BT worker died on January 6 at Great Western Hospital after suffering a heart attack.
His mother, Margaret, of Old Town, said: “He just entered Mr Puniverse for a laugh because he was very, very slight.
“He had to do lots of silly things like pick up a box of tissues, find his way out of a paper bag and try to pick up a cup and saucer. It was a big send up.
“Low and behold he won it, we were so shocked that he won.”
Kevin starred in numerous adverts, including one for British Gas, and also starred in a film.
He rubbed shoulders with celebrities but kept his feet on the ground and raised hundreds of pounds for Children In Need.
“It was just phenomenal. Going on the Noel Edmonds show opened all these doors, he had a whale of a time and met so many celebrities,” said Margaret.
“We have had a message from Noel Edmonds saying he was sorry to hear of Kevin’s passing.
“He remembered him as a fun- loving person. My niece had told him and he sent her an email,” she said.
“People still remember him and he still had people asking for his autograph.
“We were in Florida and somebody asked for his autograph.
“I think he was bullied at school a bit for his size but then when he became Mr Puniverse he enjoyed being small.”
Kevin, who was one of four siblings, was born in Chatham, Kent, to Peter and Margaret.
They moved to Swindon when he was 10 and he attended St Joseph’s School.
He was working for Mears when he entered the Mr Puniverse competition and later went on to work for BT.
Kevin, who was an uncle to nine nephews and nieces, was diagnosed with Mitochondrial myopathy about 25 years ago.
It is a collective term for a group of diseases that particularly affect muscle.
It affects people in different ways but it is thought this could be the reason for his slim physique although it is not linked to his death.
Kevin’s father, Peter, said: “He was the greatest. He was was kind and generous and a lovely son.”
Margaret added: “He had a tremendous smile, nearly every message we have had has said they would miss his smile. He was an outgoing and friendly person.”
To donate in Kevin’s memory visit angusmemorialmitochondrialfund.wordpress.com.