Tributes have been paid by the family of well known Barnstaple businessman Bruce Peterson following his death aged 71.

Mr Peterson, who owned and co-owned Vickers Bookmakers in the town for more than 40 years, passed away on Saturday, January 18 following a short illness.

His funeral will be held at St Peter's Church in Barnstaple on Friday, February 7 at 2pm, with donations if people wish to North Devon Hospice, care of WS Gayton and Son funeral directors.

He leaves behind his wife of 52 years Maralyn, his three children, Mark, Shane and Tracey and his brother Allan. He was also grandfather to eight grandchildren and one great grandson.

In a tribute his family said the town had lost a 'legend' in Bruce Peterson, or the 'Silver Fox' as he was affectionately known.

They said: "Renowned for his popularity, sincerity and love for his family and friends, Bruce's passing has shocked and deeply saddened those that were lucky enough to have known him. His zest for life was apparent for all to see.

"Although born and raised in Canada, Barnstaple was home for Bruce and he would often be seen around the town with a cheery wave, smile and most often a drink for almost all of Barnstaple's population, such was his generosity."

His family said he was at the forefront of booking, owning and then co-owning Vickers Bookmakers with his brother Allan, providing expert knowledge and advice to all his customers thanks to a lifetime of sporting experience.

They added: "Known as the 'Demon Bowler', his cricketing skills were second to none, with a career spanning more than 40 years at the crease, playing for Barnstaple, Braunton and Westleigh.

"An avid tennis player, an expert in horse racing and a passionate football fan, often giving the referee on the TV his 'opinion' on any dubious decisions!

"The family would like to express their heartfelt thanks to the North Devon Hospice where he was lovingly cared for in his last few days.

"The void he leaves behind will never be filled."

Family flowers only are requested for his funeral at St Peter's Church on Friday, February 7 but donations to North Devon Hospice are very welcome.