Tributes have been paid to hotel director Peter Brend Snr, who has died at the age of 61.

Mr Brend was a director of the Brend Hotel Group, which operates 11 hotels in Devon and Cornwall, including six in North Devon.

In a statement from Brend Hotels, Peter was described as a passionate hotelier and a man who was committed to family and friends and loyal to his colleagues.

The statement, which was posted on social media on Tuesday (June 4), said: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Mr Peter Brend Snr., after a long battle with his health.

"Not only was he a committed man to his family and friends, but a passionate hotelier. He was also a very special and loyal man to his work colleagues, showing respect, kindness, always on hand with support and generous with his time.

Peter Brend Senior, of the Brend Hotel group, has died at the age of 61. Picture: Brend Hotel GroupPeter Brend Senior, of the Brend Hotel group, has died at the age of 61. Picture: Brend Hotel Group

"Over the years he formed lifelong friendships with guests which has shaped the nature of the company to what it is today.

"He will be sorely missed by everyone at Brend Hotels."

The youngest of five children born to entrepreneurs Percy and Florence Brend, Peter was born in Barnstaple and spent his whole life living in the area.

After attending what was then Roborough House Primary School in the town, he went on to secondary education at Grenville College in Bideford.

Peter left school to start work as a trainee mechanic at Taw Garages, one of his father's businesses.

Three years later in 1977, when Peter was 19, his parents added the Saunton Sands Hotel in Braunton to their growing list of hotel purchases and asked him if he would go and work there instead. He agreed and spent the next nine months working alongside the existing manager.

When the manager decided to buy his own hotel within that first year, Peter was left in charge.

Highlights of Peter's hospitality career included launching the Brend Group's Apprenticeship Academy and winning the AA Hotel Group of the Year title in 2015.

As director of one of the South West's largest and most successful companies, Peter believed in treating employees as extended family and, widely respected, was known as a generous, hardworking, understanding and very fair boss.

Shaun Sanders, Deputy Manager at the Saunton Sands Hotel where Peter was based, has similarly fond memories.

"Mr Brend Senior gave me a chance 21 years ago. With his guidance and massive heart, I went from being a young 16-year-old boy to the man I am today," said Mr Sanders.

"He was not just my boss, he was my role model and it was a genuine pleasure working for such an outstanding, inspirational person."

Peter is survived by his brother John, his sisters June and Patsy, his children, Peter, Michael and Hannah, partner Kirsten and his 9 much-loved grandchildren.

His funeral will take place at midday on Monday, June 24 at St Peters Parish Church in Barnstaple, with donations to Kidney Research UK and North Devon Hospice.