RICHARD Brend, a member of the Barnstaple family which built up the Brend Hotel Group has died at the age of 74. His funeral is being held at St Peter s Parish Church, Barnstaple, tomorrow (Thursday) at 10am. Richard was born in Victoria Street, Barnstapl

RICHARD Brend, a member of the Barnstaple family which built up the Brend Hotel Group has died at the age of 74.

His funeral is being held at St Peter's Parish Church, Barnstaple, tomorrow (Thursday) at 10am.

Richard was born in Victoria Street, Barnstaple on the 4th February, 1936. He was the second child and eldest son born to the late Percy and Florence Brend. With children, June and Richard, followed Patricia, John and Peter to make up their family of seven.

Richard's early school days were spent in Barnstaple at Cyprus Terrace pre-school and the grammar prep school. He was awarded a scholarship to West Buckland School where he became a passionate sportsman, breaking many school records in athletics and swimming. His natural talent and strong physique has followed through his children and grandchildren. He, very proudly, represented Devon at schoolboy level for cricket and rugby.

At 18 he served his national service in the 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment. During this time he was selected to play rugby for the British Occupational Forces playing number 8. This was a huge achievement as the forces included most of the country's top talented players. Recognised as an important rugby player, on one occasion he was flown home from Germany to play for the Combined Services.

On his return from National Service he continued working for his father in the meat trade. During this time he furthered his passion playing rugby for Barnstaple. He would have liked to have played more but work became his priority and as Percy would rightly comment, "work comes first".

Richard became a popular Master butcher helping his father build up a chain of butcher shops across Devon and Cornwall.

Richard first met his lovely wife, Yvette, before going to National Service. This took place at the Queens Hall where Richard asked Yvette for the last dance. They started courting on his return from Germany and on the 7th April 1958 were married at the Trinity Church Barnstaple. They had four children, Jackie, Patsy, Tracey and Richard.

In 1967 he and his father started a new venture into the car trade with Taw Garages in Barnstaple. The success of this is still very apparent today. Then over the years alongside his father and brothers, John and Peter, established the Brend Hotel Group. This now includes a head office, 11 hotels, 2 restaurants, Taw Ford and 2 petrol stations currently employing over 1200 people.

Richard's passions included rugby and horse racing. Many memorable tales can be told of trips to Ascot, Aintree and Cheltenham.

The latter few years of life, Richard very bravely battled through cancer. Having worked throughout his life, even during the harder times of his illness he could be seen putting in a full working day.

Richard peacefully passed away at his home on Friday 24th September with his wife and children at his side.

A true gentleman, who respected and loved his family.

His constant generosity and wicked sense of humour will be remembered by all who knew him.