THE heartbroken loved ones of a well-known Chard businessman are struggling to come to terms with his sudden death.

Paul Church, who ran a car repair and MOT business on Millfield Trading Estate, was just 55.

His son, Lee, said the cause of his father's unexpected death on May 20 was still unknown.

"We're all going to miss him an awful lot. It's left a big gap and we're all struggling," said Lee.

Paul moved to Chard from Stembridge and bought a house in there in 2001.

He set up his successful business from scratch and employed three members of staff.

Lee, who works in construction, said: "I'm trying to keep the MOT station going.

"He wouldn't have wanted this place to go and I feel it's my responsibility to step in and keep it going for him and for the blokes who work here.

Paul had many friends in Chard, where his "favourite place" was the Phoenix Hotel, where he enjoyed having a drink with friends, who affectionately called him Churchie.

In his spare time he was an avid shooter, enjoying clay and game shooting locally and in Scotland.

In his younger days, he worked as a continental lorry driver, taking him away from home for long periods. The job gave him a love of Italy, which he travelled to on many occasions.

Lee added: "He was quite a serious person, but he had to be to be the businessman he was.

"Everybody knew he was a bit fiery, but behind that there was a heart of gold and he was a respected businessman."

Paul was loved as a father, grandfather, brother, son and partner.

His funeral is at Taunton Deane Crematorium on Friday, June 24, at 11am, with arrangements by B. Gibbs Funeral Services.

There will be family flowers on, but people may wish to make donations for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance at the service or via or sent c/o B. Gibbs Funeral Services Ltd, The Manse, 28 Fore Street, Chard, TA20 1PT. Cheques should be made payable to the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.