TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular Taunton Crematorium assistant who passed away after a battle with cancer.

Donald ‘Don’ Smith sadly passed away in late August at the age of 77, one week before from his 78th birthday.

Donald suffered from cancer for several years but continued to live an active life despite the pain he suffered.

The Taunton man finally lost his battle in care at the Beacon Centre, Musgrove Hospital. He leaves behind a son, Matthew, and two daughters, Jo and Justine.

Friends, colleagues and family of Donald held a celebration at Taunton Crematorium where he worked.

Graham Harker, from Taunton Tennis Club, gave a tribute to Donald, reflecting on his greatest tennis moments as well as some of his best jokes and his memories of working on his allotment.

The funeral service also saw all those attending join together to sing Happy Birthday as Donald was unfortunate not to reach his next birthday.

A spokesperson for Wallace Stuart Funeral Directors said: "Don was very highly regarded for his professionalism and attention to detail and was a good friend to many of us. He is very sadly missed.”

David Greenaway, a close friend of Donald, said: “Don was a real gentleman, often compared with Roger Moore’s 007; he was very popular with the ladies and always had a few jokes up his sleeve. 

“He will be sadly missed by us all he brought joy into our lives.

“Don did not want flowers at his service instead he asked that donations go to his favourite place Hestercombe Gardens – you can send donations Wallace Stuart Lady funeral directors, Fore Street, North Petherton, Bridgwater Somerset TA6 6PZ.”

Donald’s son, Matthew, said: “He made friends everywhere and made an effort to outwardly be charming and upbeat even when he was down. He was always there for us even when he had very little. He learnt from his mistakes and quite simply he became a much, much nicer man who only ever wanted the best for us.

“The older he got the more of a friend he became to me. My biggest regret is that he lost his fight to cancer before I could make him a grandfather because he would have loved that.

“But for now I think it is time to say goodbye. Goodbye to a lovely man, a great father and a great friend. He will never really be far from us I know because over the last few days I have felt him as I watched the breeze in the trees and in the clouds moving across the sky as I thought about him.”