TRIBUTES have been paid to Devizes businessman with a heart of gold Bruce Hopkins.

Mr Hopkins died aged 71 on November 17, just months after being taken dangerously ill on a cruise and having to be flown back home.

This week his wife Jackie, 70, who and had been his soulmate since she was 15-years-old, spoke of the man who made her laugh and was generous with both his time and money.

She said: "I miss Bruce so much. It would have been our 49th wedding anniversary on December 6 but instead it is his funeral the next day.

"We used to laugh together all the time. I have been comforted by the many lovely messages I have received. Everyone has a good word to say about him. He loved people and was very good with children. He always wanted to help people if he could and they remember that."

Music lover Mr Hopkins set up the Patney Picnic summer event in the garden of their village home and over the years raised about £30,000 for charity.

Four years ago he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and held a number of fundraising concerts for a support charity, often joined by his granddaughter Athena, 12.

He and his wife enjoyed cruises and he often performed on the ship. But while on a cruise in June he started to feel unwell and eventually he was flown back to the UK from Helsinki.

Tests showed that he had a brain tumour, unrelated to the Prostate Cancer, and he gradually declined. He spent the last weeks of his life in a care home in Goatacre.

Mrs Hopkins said: "The staff were wonderful. I spent as much time as possible there as well and they really looked after me as well."

Mr Hopkins was born in Ivy House, Devizes in 1947 and grew up in Forty Acres Road with his parents Ella and George and brother Ken.

Mr Hopkins went to Devizes Grammar School where he met Mike Gaiger who went on to be a lifetime friend. He played in most of the school's sports teams including football and cricket and also enjoyed cross country running and table tennis.

As a teenager he became passionate about singing and music and he and Jackie met when he was performing at a youth club.

She said: "I told my friend I was going to marry him."

But he left school with just two O levels and went to work as a cost clerk for WE Chivers. He worked his way up the ranks to works director but when Chivers closed he set up his own business Devizes Joinery Company on the Hopton Industrial Estate.

He later opened Devizes Fine Kitchens in Northgate Street and was joined in the business by his son James.

Mr and Mrs Hopkins had two sons David and James and an adopted daughter Carly.

They also had five grandchildren Elliott, Athena, Madison, Summer and Gethin.

The couple were married in St John's Church in 1969 and set up their first home in London Road, Devizes. They later moved to different homes in the town before going to Great Cheverell and then settling in Patney for 33 years.

In March they moved into a new home they helped design in Roundway Park.

Mr Hopkins continued his love of sport throughout his life playing football for a number of teams and in the 1990s became chairman of Devizes Football Club.

He rekindled his love of music as his children got older and was known for singing with twins Gina and Christie Strong.

As a young man music led to a friendship between him and renowned Devizes composer Simon May and they have also performed together over the years at events in the town.

Mr Hopkins funeral will be held at St Mary's Church, Devizes on December 7 at 1pm followed by a wake at The Bear Hotel. A collection will be made for Cancer Research UK.