TRIBUTES have been paid to an Ilminster man who was part of 30 different local organisation before he passed away at the age of 85.

Roland John Bragg, aged 85, died at the Vaughan Lee House in Ilminster on May 14, after a short illness.

Now, his friends and family have spoken about Roland, ‘one of life’s characters’.

Hi son, Nick, said: “Everyone loved being in his smiling company he had a wonderful gift of keeping everyone laughing and enjoying themselves.

“He lived his life to the full and had a diverse repertoire, was always a perfect gentleman and was one of life’s characters.”

Roland Bragg was born on October 29, 1934, at Colton Farm in the Brendan Hills of Exmoor. In 1940, the family moved to Ilminster.

As a young boy he went to chapel with his parents, who were very religious, and went twice on Sundays.

At 14, Roland joined the young farmers association, and at 16 he left school.

As he grew up he became very interested in the Taunton Vale foxhounds, and the hunt at Cotleigh.

On April 15, 1953, the young man got his call up papers and joined Somerset Light Infantry.

When Roland was doing his training, he heard that the army was asking if anyone would like to help look after horses. He signed up for the role immediately Godfrey Harris, Roland’s friends, said: “When he finished his service, he became more involved with racing and jumping horses.

“Roland became more involved with showjumping and point to points, but his race riding finished after a bad fall at Hampton Court.

“He was also at a meeting at the White Horse in Ilminster which led to the founding of the Ilminster Beagles.

“Roland was involved in 30 organisations, including Roundtable and the Honiton Show, and he was an outstanding commentator for showjumping.”

Roland had two sons from his first marriage. His son from his second marriage, Nick, runs Frogmary Farm in South Petherton.

In his later years, Roland spent a while in Alacante, in Spain, before he returned to Ilminster, and the Vaughan Lee House.

Godfrey added: “He was grandfather and friend to so many. A very special man who will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”

There will be a private cremation, with a service to celebrate his life at a later date.