A POPULAR town crier, who was devoted to the community of Calne, has died at the age of 75.

John William Bridges, of North Street, Calne, died on Friday at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, after a long illness.

The father-of-three was well known throughout the county for his role as town crier and for his voluntary work for local charities such as Dorothy House Hospice and the Kennet and Avon Canal Shop in Devizes.

Fellow town crier of Warminster Phil Seddon, who is the treasurer of the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers, paid respects to his friend.

He said: "He was an absolutely perfect gentleman. He always supported me in things I did in Warminster, for instance he came over to our carnival a few times.

"If anybody invited him to their town he would always go up."

Mr Bridges was born in Calne in 1932 and christened at St Mary's Church.

After moving to Heddington, Oxford, with his family he was called up for National Service where he served with the multi-national force in Vienna, Austria.

He went on to complete his Territorial Army commitment in the parachute regiment as a paratrooper.

On his return Mr Bridges joined the Metropolitan Police in 1952.

He was posted to Bow Street Police Station where he met his wife Mary. They married in 1956 and eventually moved on to Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, where they raised their three sons Steven, Alan and Michael. They divorced in 1988.

In a tribute to his father, Steve, 50, said: "John Bridges was a genial, outgoing person who was keen to support the local community in many ways.

"He had a full, eventful life and spent his last years as he would have wished, in the place of his birth, surrounded by his family and friends."

Mr Bridges retired from the police in 1979 and became a publican, buying and running the Ilchester Arms in Milton Clevedon, near Shepton Mallet. He retired completely in 1993 and moved with his partner Ruby Gilling, 70, to Padbury near Buckingham and began voluntary work as a hospital driver.

In 2000 he returned to Calne, where he was appointed as the town crier and officiated various civic events.

A funeral service for Mr Bridges will be held on Tuesday at 1.30pm at St Andrew's Church, Heddington.

Family flowers only. All donations will be shared between St Andrew's Church and Dorothy House Hospice.

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