Tributes have been paid to ‘Mr Swimbridge’ Ray Liverton who dedicated his life to serving his village.

Ray Liverton and Swimbridge schoolchildren at the unveiling of the start of the village's new Water Heritage Trail. Picture: Tony GussinRay Liverton and Swimbridge schoolchildren at the unveiling of the start of the village's new Water Heritage Trail. Picture: Tony Gussin

Ray died at Exeter hospital on Wednesday aged 89 after becoming ill at home on the Sunday and being flown to hospital by air ambulance.

His funeral will be on Wednesday, December 12 at 11am at St James Church in Swimbridge, followed by a service at North Devon Crematorium at 12.20pm, with donations to Devon Air Ambulance and the church.

Ray served as a councillor for decades after being elected parish councillor in 1969 and was the council chairman for 26 years, as well as serving as a district councillor.

In 2012 he was one of three honorary aldermen appointed for the first time in its history by North Devon Council.

Ray Liverton presenting Swimbridge pre-school leader Sarah Smith with a plate to mark her 30 years at the pre-school. Picture: Andy KeebleRay Liverton presenting Swimbridge pre-school leader Sarah Smith with a plate to mark her 30 years at the pre-school. Picture: Andy Keeble

Ray’s wife Sheila died seven years ago and he leaves his son Max and granddaughter Micha, nine.

Paying tribute to his father, Max said: “I could not have wished for a better dad or a better granddad for my little daughter.

“He was very proud of Swimbridge and very proud of the people.”

Part of his life’s work with the parish council involved trying to get land for a playing field for the children of the village and in 2011 that became a reality as part of a deal with developers and the church off the back of a 14-home development.

The park itself still needs to be developed but Max said his father was honoured when they named the development Liverton Drive.

Ray was born on July 5, 1929 in South Molton, but lived in the village from a very early age. He went to Swimbridge junior school and then to Barnstaple Grammar School.

He apprenticed as an electrician and then spent his working life with SWEB (South Western Electricity Board).

On top of that he was a special constable for 26 years and served on numerous organisations and committees both on and off the council, including chairman of the Swimbridge Jubilee Hall Committee for 21 years.

He was a founder member and president of Swimbridge Twinning Committee and also a member of the Swimbridge Feoffees, a charitable group that provides help for young and old in the village.

Fellow Feoffee member and councillor John Hayes said: “Ray was Mr Swimbridge in the same way that Dick Joy was Mr Landkey.

“The one thing you could say about Ray, Swimbridge always came first in his view, not that he ignored the other parts of the parish, but Swimbridge was his heart.”