North Devon folk scene trailblazer John Parker has died aged 85.

John, from Bradiford, was involved with the local folk movement from the early 1970s, founding the well-known group Hearts of Oak, which performed for more than three decades.

He was also a founder member of Exmoor Carolers - since 2006 the group has performed at local churches and venues every festive season to give little-known ancient and traditional carols a new audience.

John passed away after a long illness and his family would like to thank North Devon Hospice for its care of him during the final stages of his life, enabling him to stay at home.

His funeral is at Pilton Church in Barnstaple at 12.30pm on Monday (June 24), with family flowers only and donations to the hospice.

John's late wife was Jean and he leaves two sons, Tim and Michael, who both have musical careers.

Tim teaches music in North Devon schools, while Michael makes percussion instruments and grandsons James, Jacques, David and William also have an interest in music.

John was born on August 21, 1933 and was a sales executive for Shapland and Petter, travelling all over Great Britain and Ireland to sell doors.

He was a founding member of Hearts of Oak around 1981 and the group performed on a not-for-profit basis, raising quarter of a million pounds for local charities and for many years were known as the premiere folk group in the area.

They sang around the country from Cornwall to Liverpool as well as singing as far afield as Mystic Seaport in the U.S.A. and performed alongside well known names of the times, such as The Spinners.

Alongside singing traditional and maritime songs, John had also developed a real interest in the carols which had been sung for many years on Exmoor.

This was inspired originally by the singing of Exmoor hill farmer, Jim Sanders and gradually some of these carols were introduced into the Christmas repertoire of the group.

When Hearts of Oak disbanded, John was given copies of more Exmoor carols by Dennis and Cicely Corner of Porlock and he was reluctant to let these fade into obscurity so formed a new group, The Exmoor Carolers.

Around Christmas time the Carolers are to be found singing and playing, usually in churches, around North Devon and further afield, keeping alive the old Exmoor carols and also singing some new Exmoor carols written by John himself and a couple of others in the group.

In a statement the Carolers said: "John was a big personality and his drive not only helped to put on performances which entertained many people but also gave musicians and singers a chance to be part of something quite unique.

"John's voice will continue to sing quietly in the minds of all those who knew him.

"The thanks of his family go to the wonderful nurses and care staff provided by North Devon Hospice who made John feel comfortable, safe and able to stay at home in the final stage of his life.

"Also to the NHS staff who have supported John both at home and in hospital over the last few years.

"They also extend to his friends who frequently visited to sing or chat with John about his very full and busy life both in the music world and at particularly selling doors for Shapland & Petter, taking him out for breakfasts and supplying him with his favourite Hockings ice cream."

His wake at Portmore Golf Club will follow the funeral and is likely to involve lots of music and singing.