Tributes have been paid to Devizes man Mark Stobbart whose body was found in the Kennet & Avon Canal in Devizes.

He was discovered by a passer-by shortly before 6.45am on Good Friday near Quakers Walk bridge.

The Devizes to Westminster canoe race, which was due to start at 7am, was delayed for two and a half hours while police officers undertook an investigation.

Police believe Mr Stobbart, 44, had been out socialising on Thursday evening and had been in The Lamb pub, St John’s Street, leaving between 1am and 2am.

Officers believe there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding Mr Stobbart’s death but would still like to hear from anyone who may have information. A file is being prepared for Wiltshire Coroner David Ridley.

Mr Stobbart lived in Keepers Road, on the Quakers Walk estate, with his wife, Clare, and their three-and-a-half year old son, Conor.

His sudden death has shocked his family and friends.

Mrs Stobbart said yesterday he was a devoted husband and father and a good friend to many.

Fighting back tears she said: “Mark was very popular and had lots of friends. He was the sort of chap who would talk to anyone and was very likeable. He always put himself out and liked to help if he could.

“He was funny, he liked to think he was a bit of a comedian. He was sociable and friendly.”

She met Mark in the British Lion pub in 2007 and they became a couple immediately. They were married two years later at the Bear Hotel, Devizes.

Mrs Stobbart, 42, said: “One of the things Mark wanted to do in life was get married and have a family. That was his main goal in life. He took to it well.”

Mr Stobbart had worked in the insurance industry since leaving Devizes School. He was a key broker account executive for the central region for multinational insurance firm Ageas and had worked for Ageas and, previously Fortis, since 2003.

A spokesman for Ageas said Mr Stobbart was a “much valued employee”.

The spokesman added: “Mark was a long-serving, hard-working and well- liked member of the Ageas team, who was respected by both colleagues and clients.

“We are deeply saddened by his loss and our thoughts and sympathies go to his wife, family and friends.”

As well as his wife and son Mr Stobbart is survived by his parents, Margaret and Ernie, and older brothers Michael and Paul, who all live in Devizes.

His funeral service is on Tuesday, May 6, at St James’ Church, Southbroom, at 10.30am. His family have asked for donations to Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Macmillan Cancer Support.