Tributes have been paid to a former Ledbury landlord and “larger than life” character following his death last week.

Andy Ward was landlord at The Talbot for 25 years before retiring to the Isle of Man, where his wife Maria now works as a counsellor.

He died last Friday (January 7) in hospital on the Isle of Man, following a cardiac arrest.

Described as the heart and soul of the community, Mr Ward was involved in almost every aspect of community life in Ledbury during his time in the town.

He was instrumental in Ledbury’s twinning with the Swedish town of Stromstad and was chairman of Ledbury’s tourism association.

Mr Ward also organised the Ledbury English Festival, which ran for five years from 2001, and was a keen supporter of both Ledbury in Bloom and Ledbury Carnival.

He married Maria, originally a teacher from Romania, in Ledbury’s iconic Market House in 1999. 

Mr Ward retired from The Talbot in January 2020, with friends throwing a surprise farewell party at the pub.

Mrs Ward said: “He came over here to join me and it was really lovely, but it was just for such a short time.

“Andy was such a jolly man who made everybody happy and never put himself first.

“We were married for 22 years and when I married him, I married the pub. I had to share Andy with people, but that was ok. He was the heart and soul of the community, that was Andy and that’s why people loved him.”

Hilary Williams-Jones, director of Ledbury Funeral Services, said Andy was a very good friend.

“I first knew him from his time at the Hope and Anchor in Ross-on-Wye,” she said. “And then for many years as a friend, as a community person and as a landlord.

“He was a great supporter of the carnival and of all community events in the town, and he was a brilliant host for our Swedish visitors.

“I last saw him in July when he and Maria came back to Ledbury for Andy’s 70th birthday. That was good fun, and great that they wanted to celebrate in Ledbury. We’ve missed them, of course, since they moved, but it was lovely to see them in the summer and we’ll be thinking about Andy on the day of his funeral.

“Andy was a very generous man and a very humble man. He was a larger than life character, a legend in his own lifetime.”

Annette Crowe, a former town mayor and owner of Past & Present jewellers in Ledbury, said: “I first knew Andy 15 years ago when I set up the Traders Association.

“He did a lot for the town. He was so full of life, so cheerful and he really cared about the town. He was larger than life in more ways than one and was the host of so many wonderful evenings at The Talbot.”

Mr Ward’s funeral will take place on Thursday, January 20 at 1pm at St Ninians Church, Douglas, followed by interment at The Lawn Cemetery in Douglas, Isle of Man.