The family of a much-loved North Devon countryman hope to celebrate his life with a memorial walk once the coronavirus pandemic eases.

Cyril Cole with a group of walkers around the wild meadows of Lower Ash Moor. Picture: Richard HoweCyril Cole with a group of walkers around the wild meadows of Lower Ash Moor. Picture: Richard Howe

Cyril Cole guided hundreds of people on walks through the wild flower meadows of Lower Ash Moor near Witheridge, which he farmed alongside his wife, Kathleen.

His work with green hay, barn owls and other creatures earned him widespread respect and awards in Devon and Somerset.

Cyril was also featured in an episode of the More4 series Devon and Cornwall, which charted his work giving back to nature.

Cyril died in May, and Kathleen said so many people want to pay their tributes that a walk would be a fitting way to mark his life.

Cyril Cole and his wife Kathleen Cole daughters Rosy and Jenny. Picture: ContributedCyril Cole and his wife Kathleen Cole daughters Rosy and Jenny. Picture: Contributed

She said: “He wanted to identify plants and it’s been a great love of his,” said Kathleen.

“Then he went on to supplying other people with seeds, creating meadows on other people’s farms.

“I’ve had lots of lovely letters and cards from people who appreciated what he did for them.

“He’d try to help everybody, not just with the flowers.”

Kathleen intends to carry on Cyril’s pioneering work on the farm with the help of contractors.

The couple have welcomed more than a thousand people from all over Devon and Somerset to the farm, introducing walkers to different grasses, trees, flowers and birds. Afterwards Kathleen would put on a popular cream tea for the visitors.

Their work on the land has seen the couple win wildlife and conservation awards.

They won the Silver Lapwing Award, given by The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Devon Bronze Otter Award from the county’s farming and wildlife advisory group.

Paying tribute to Cyril, Devon Wildlife Trust’s Tom Parsons said: “His magnificent culm meadows were the seed source for the restoration or creation of many, many hectares of beautiful, wildlife-friendly grassland habitat.

“The increase in wildlife value of these sites can be incredible just a few years after spreading green hay.

“He invariably stayed in contact with customers, providing invaluable ongoing management advice. Any business would do well to model their ‘aftercare’ package on Cyril’s approach.”