HUGH Sayce, 97, was a familiar figure in and around Wootton Bassett, where he and his late wife Molly, who died in 2009, were involved in very many aspects of local life, over many years.

They owned, developed and ran Park Copse caravan park, from 1959 until 1972, when they moved to Callow Hill.

Hugh, a qualified forester and keen countryman, was a member of Cotswold Sailing Club and helped improve its wildlife habitat.The family was also involved in the Camping Club Boat Group, with coastal sailing holidays.

Hugh Bevan Sayce, eldest of three children, was born in July 1920, at Marlborough, where his father was a dentist. He was educated at Sidcot, a co-educational Quaker boarding school near Weston-Super Mare, and enjoyed photography, woodwork, cycling and Scouting.

Hugh’s first job was in accountancy. In 1940, despite his Quaker roots, he volunteered for the RAF after meeting soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk. He failed an aircrew medical, but due to his sailing experience he was accepted for Motor Boat Crew, and helped in sea rescue. In 1941 he joined a convoy from the Clyde on a five-week voyage to South Africa, for aircrew training at Port Elizabeth. Whilst in South Africa he almost died from typhoid.

After helping to rescue 43 men (including 12 seriously injured) from a torpedoed ship, Hugh acted as a medical orderly until they were safely in port.

After training as a Tiger Moth pilot, he was re-assigned as a navigator bomb aimer, was promoted to sergeant, and returned to the UK in 1945. He was posted to Stranraer for operational training., but the war ended and After demob in 1946 he worked for the Forestry Commission. In 1948, on an advanced forestry course in Snowdonia, he climbed a 100ft Douglas fir tree to collect cones and seeds. Hugh pursued his forestry career at Tintern, before going to work at an estate near Burford, reclaiming 450 acres of derelict woodland. Through a contact at a Quaker meeting in Cirencester, he was introduced to Molly Roberts, a nurse who became his wife. They were wed at All Saints, Charlton, in 1951 and were married for almost 58 years.

Hugh’s funeral, at Kingsdown Crematorium on October 16, included the hymn Rock of Ages, whose writer was inspired by the rock at Burrington Combe, Somerset, where Mr and Mrs Sayce lived in the 1950s.

Their first child, Rosemary, was born in 1952. During their years at Park Copse, Hugh and Molly worked hard together. They kept chickens and goats, grew vegetables and daffodils, sold firewood and planted many trees. Hugh also had various part-time jobs, as a postman and on deliveries for school meals and a local supermarket.

On retirement in 1985, Hugh and Molly visited New Zealand, Canada, Europe and Scotland, and enjoyed Wootton Bassett Historical Society trips. Hugh was an active local volunteer in Wilts & Berks Canal Trust.

He was a keen environmentalist, and attached a trailer to his bicycle and collected tins and bottles for charity recycling. He also took part in the annual Great Cycle Ride of Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust.

A cycle accident in the 1990s, when he broke his hip, did not limit Hugh’s activity for long. He acquired a mobility scooter and sold poppies each Remembrance-tide in Wootton Bassett High Street.

After his health failed, he lived at Ridgeway House and finally in care at Bassett House. The Royal British Legion, from whom he had gained a certificate of appreciation, provided a Guard of Honour. at his funeral.

Hugh Sayce is remembered fondly by his family, including seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren, as well as by his many friends and acquaintances.

Memorial donations for the Royal British Legion may be sent c/o Johnson & Daltrey Funeral Service, 112 High Street, Royal Wootton Bassett, SN4 7AU.