A TOP hospital consultant has died suddenly, leaving a pregnant wife and two young children.

“Big-hearted” Mike Davies, who was in his 40s, had only recently agreed to help a friend’s General Election campaign.

Dr Davies, a consultant anaesthetist at Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital, collapsed after enjoying a meal with his in-laws in Fareham, Hampshire, on Friday night.

Post mortem tests are being carried out to establish the cause of death and the Coroner has been informed.

His shocked friend Mike Rigby, who is standing as an Independent in Taunton Deane in May’s General Election, said: “Mike was a gregarious, big-hearted guy with so many friends.

“He was always laughing and joking.

“I’d only known him a few years, but our families had quickly become the firmest of friends, taking holidays together. Just the day before he died he was at our house and we’d been planning another one.”

Dr Davies, of Minehead Road, Bishops Lydeard, was recently elected as a parish councillor for Bishops Lydeard and Cothelstone, and was Mr Rigby’s campaign treasurer.

Before joining the NHS, he was an Army medic and had worked in Australia.

He leaves a widow, Vicky, two children, Jack, seven, and Freddie, five.

Last year he was first on the scene of a collision between a coach and a car at Pen Elm Hill, Norton Fitzwarren, when he stabilised the badly injured car driver until the emergency services arrived.

Mr Rigby added: “I can only now gauge how much he meant to me by surveying the size of the hole he has left in all our lives.”

Musgrove’s medical director Dr Colin Close said Dr Davies, who joined from Queen Victoria Hospital, West Sussex, in August 2010, was “well-known and respected”.

Dr Close added: “He was known for his larger-than-life character and a positive, enthusiastic nature to just make things happen.

“One major success was his work in developing the highly successful ophthalmic practitioner service providing regional blocks for eye surgery - the service saw the ophthalmology practitioner team trained to provide local anaesthetic eye injections for eye surgery rather than using anaesthetist time, bringing brought about real improvements in the quality of care whilst also being more cost effective.

“Mike was also elected as chairman of our senior hospital medical staff committee and a regional British Medical Association representative.

“He was known outside the hospital for the wide range of social events he organised including ‘steamathons’ on the West Somerset Railway.

“He’ll be missed enormously and our thoughts are with his wife and young family.”

Bishops Lydeard and Cothelstone Parish Council chairman Joanna Lewin-Harris said: “On behalf of the parish council, I’d like to acknowledge the valuable contribution Mike made in the short time he was a councillor. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”