CUSTOMERS and staff at a Somerset pub are in shock following the death of the popular landlord after a short illness.

Steve Jones, 48, had been at the Phoenix Hotel, on Fore Street, Chard, for over 20 years.

He first started working in the Phoenix in 1999 and became the manager before taking over in 2008 with business partner Graham Baker after the town men formed WKD Properties.

Steve had previously worked at the Happy Return, in East Street.

He was born in the London area and came to Somerset with his parents as a teenager, studying at Holyrood School.

He later enjoyed a gap year, travelling and exploring around Australia before returning to Chard.

Steve died peacefully on July 11 following a short illness.

He leaves a wife, Sarah, sons Jamie and Lucas and a nephew, Reece.

Jamie said: "He liked Somerset and returned here after his time in Australia.

"He enjoyed working in the pub, where he was very popular.

"He was very caring and looked after his staff and regulars."

Steve enjoyed playing in the pub pool and darts teams and was a fanatical Liverpool supporter.

His funeral is at Taunton Deane Crematorium at noon on Wednesday, August 3.

People attending are asked not to wear black and if possible to take or wear a Liverpool flag or scarf.

Donations can be made for Alopecia UK at the services or via the funeral director at or sent c/o B. Gibbs Funeral Services Ltd. The Manse, 28 Fore Street, Chard, TA20 1PT. Telephone 01460 66100.