A BISHOPS Lydeard grandfather who defied medical odds for years has died.

Andy Gilbert, who preferred to be known by his nickname 'Rat', lost his decade long battle with cancer at home in Darby Way, surrounded by his family.

Rat, 62, stunned doctors when he survived aggressive throat cancer in 2009 and then came round from a six-day coma four years ago.

When he was given months to live in 2017, he threw himself into a massive event to raise around £24,000 for Cancer Research UK and the intensive care unit at Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital in gratitude for their support.

But he finally lost his fight for life on Saturday, November 2.

Rat was born in Brompton Ralph and was brought up in Tolland alongside his five siblings.

He attended school in Lydeard St Lawrence and then at Kingsmead, in Wiveliscombe.

He enjoyed sport, playing rugby for West Somerset Hospital and Wiveliscombe and cricket for Brompton Ralph from the age of 11 before moving to a number of other clubs, including Stogumber. He also played darts and skittles.

He loved country pursuits such as fishing, hunting and shooting, including loading.

Rat had worked for Taunton Cider and later for an office removals firm.

He was a family man with four children, two stepchildren and seven grandchildren.

His daughter, Sara, said: "He inspired us all with his strength and determination and will be dearly missed."

Rat's funeral is taking place at St Mary's Church, Bishops Lydeard, on Saturday, November 23, at 2pm, with internment in the churchyard afterwards.

Mourners can wear country attire with clean wellies and can make donations to Love Musgrove (ICU) and SURE.

Funeral arrangements are by Quantock Funeral Services.