TRIBUTES have been paid to a community spirited "gentle giant" who died after fighting a long illness.

Dennis Wright, who served as president of the Probus Club of Evesham 2011-2012, died of pneumonia on Wednesday, August 23, after battling leukaemia and heart disease.

The 94-year-old, who served as chief radio officer in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War, was well-known in Evesham and the surrounding district for working with many community groups and helping to sort out their accounts.

He was honourable auditor for the Great & Little Hampton Educational Charity, he did accounts for the John Martin Charity and was treasurer for St Richards Church in Fairfield, Evesham.

He had strong links with the Scout Association, serving as treasurer and a trustee for the Hampton Scout & Guide Association.

He also helped to build the group's scout hut and his family have been associated with the group since 1923.

For more than 35 years he worked for Avon Valley Tractors, which was based in Evesham and Kidderminster.

In 2012 he was selected to go to London as Burma Star Merchant Navy representative at Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

He retired at 65, and together with his wife of more than 68 years, Sheilah, was a passionate member of Gloucestershire and Avon caravan clubs.

His youngest son Chris Wright said: "He was an English gentleman, very quiet and unassuming, but an amazing man.

"He was one of these big guys, a gentle giant. A respectable character. He was always helping out behind the scenes.

"He was always one for helping out wherever he could. I'm sure that he would be most embarrassed by all this attention."

Mr Wright, of Merrybrook, Evesham, was member of the Probus Club for more than a decade. On hearing the news of Mr Wright’s death, the group held a moment of silence to remember him.

Chris Donough, publicity officer for the Probus Club of Evesham, said: "Dennis had been a well-liked, well regarded and well respected member of the Probus Club of Evesham for many years.

"We were shocked and greatly saddened this week to learn that Dennis Wright had passed away suddenly.

"Many of us had spoken to him only last week and we all will miss his quiet dignity and compassion. I believe Dennis was the last of our members to have seen service during the Second World War."

A service in his memory is being held at St Andrews Church in Hampton at 11.30am on Thursday, September 14.

Family flowers only, donations will be made to the Midlands Air Ambulance. This will be followed by a gathering at Evesham Rowing Club, in Abbey Road.

The Probus Club have decided to close on the date of his funeral as a mark of respect and so that members can attended the funeral.

He is survived by his wife Sheilah, his three children Susan, Andrew and Chris as well as his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.