THE pews of Ledbury Parish Church were full, with standing room only for late-comers, at the memorial service of Homend jeweller, Peter Judge.

Mr Judge's death last month from cancer of the liver, kidney and lung was unexpected, and it sent a ripple of dismay through the community he served in so many ways, for so many years. He was 75.

His funeral on April 22 was a family affair, but his memorial service on Thursday, May 1 was open to all, and more that 600 people packed into St Michael and All Angel's Church.

To his daughter, Karen Owens, who is now at the helm of the family business, JB Gaynan and Son, the event was a celebration of her father's life, and not a sad occasion.

She said: "It was a light-hearted occasion, a celebration of his life and a tribute to him."

Large pictures of Mr Judge were blown up and attached to pillars in the church, to remind friends, family and well-wishers of happier times.

Mr Judge was viewed by many as a brilliant jeweller, a pillar of the community and one of Ledbury’s last remaining “old characters”.

A partner with JB Gaynan and Son, he was diagnosed with cancer following a heart attack, when tests 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.

Mr Judge was a great supporter of community events, such as the annual Ledbury Carnival and last year's town centre Ox Roast, for which he made special commemorative badges.

He was also a driving force behind the town's annual fireworks display on Ledbury Park.

Mr Judge was a great supporter of various charities.

Donations from his memorial service raised £2,300.

Half of that will go to the RNLI, and the rest will be split between Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care.