SWINDON'S Mr Real Ale, Dave Backhouse, was remembered by about 200 mourners at his funeral service, followed by a wake in one of his favourite pubs.

Friends, family and former colleagues travelled from all over England, bringing together the many strands of Mr Backhouse's life.

Among them was one of Britain's most famous jazz musicians, Jack Fallon, 86, who gave Mr Backhouse a house in London after the accident in 1962 which resulted in him being in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

And Bill Reid, co-owner of the Brunel Rooms, was there, remembering the time Mr Backhouse organised the only Beatles' gig in Swindon, above the former McIlroys store in the town centre.

As well as his love of jazz and being a great organiser, Mr Backhouse, who lived in Foxhill, was well-known in Swindon as a local historian, chairman of the local branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), writer, publisher and railway enthusiast.

He died suddenly on April 7 at the age of 67, after contracting a lung infection. His funeral service was held yesterday at St Andrew's Church in Wanborough, followed by a wake in the village's Black Horse Inn which he had asked to be paid for out of his estate.

Mr Backhouse was a single man and the funeral service was led by his cousin Angela from Surrey who told amusing anecdotes about their childhoods.

Eric Langcaster, 69, a friend since sixth form also paid tribute, along with John Cole, of Liddington. With Marcus Vaux the trio formed Swindon Jazz Club in 1951 and The Ray River's Jazz Band.

"There was always something happening in Dave's life and he always wanted others to share in it," said Mr Langcaster. "He was a remarkable person because when he became disabled he didn't stop organising events.

"If there is an evening when you're walking along and it's dark and wintry and you can hear blues music but you can't see anything, look up in the sky and you will know that Dave is managing the angels."

Members of CAMRA raised pints to their much-loved former chairman.

David Newton said: "At the Great British Beer Festival, people in wheelchairs and their helpers were allowed in free and David found himself on one occasion with nine helpers a record that still has to be broken.

"If the nectar up there isn't in cask-condition someone is in for a hard time!"

Before he had his accident, Mr Backhouse worked as a booking agent for Jack Fallon who was the chief at Cana Variety Agency in London.

"When he came out of hospital he was worried he wouldn't be able to work any more so I bought him a house in London with a telephone line connected to the office so he could carry on doing his bookings," said Mr Fallon. "He was a great man."

Mr Backhouse also worked in Swindon for Jay Bee Clubs Ltd, owned by Mr Reid. He was instrumental in booking many bands for the town, including The Beatles.

"He was a very good organiser. It is true that it's not the cards that you are dealt in life that count, but how you play them. Dave played them very well," said Mr Reid.

At the wake were Pauline and Richard Emsley, of Crawley, who discovered they were related to Mr Backhouse a year ago when they came across his website which logs his family tree from the 1700s and some history of Swindon.

Jan Whitford, 60, his former housekeeper from 33 years ago, and her family were at the wake. She said: "He was part of our family and we will miss him terribly. His death is the end of an era."