TRIBUTES have been paid to Ledbury jeweller, Peter Judge, whose death was as unexpected as it was regretted among the community.

For many, Mr Judge, aged 75, was seen a a brilliant jeweller, a pillar of the community and one of Ledbury’s last remaining “old characters”.

Mr Judge, a partner with JB Gaynan and Son, in the Homend, was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney, liver and one lung after tests, following a heart attack, revealed the full extent of his sudden health problems.

Told that chemotherapy would not work, he asked to return home and calmly organised his own funeral and memorial.

His funeral will be a private family affair, but there will be a public memorial service at St Michael and All Angels Church, Ledbury, on Thursday, May 1, at 3pm, followed by a gathering at Ledbury Rugby Club.

His daughter, Karen Owens, who will keep Gaynans going, said: “He had a wicked sense of humour, and I will really miss his whistling. He wasn’t even aware he was whistling as he was walking around.”

Mr Judge was a great supporter of community events, such as Ledbury Carnival and the Ox Roast, for which he designed and made special souvenir badges.

He was a stalwart of Ledbury Round Table and the force behind the town’s annual fireworks display. In his younger days, he played for Ledbury Rugby club. He was also a very keen fly fisherman and a trustee of Hereford Rowing Club.

Bernard Gaynan, who founded the shop in 1947, had married Mr Judge’s mother, a widow.

On the death of Mr Gaynan, Mr Judge took over the shop and ran it with his wife, Carole, and his mother. It is believed to be the oldest family-run business in continuous existence in Ledbury.

Mr Gaynan leaves two children, Karen and Christopher, and two grandchildren, Louis and Harvey.