TRIBUTES have been paid to a beloved community stalwart who has sadly passed away.

Malcolm Bale, 80, from Watchet, passed away on Saturday, November 9 after being taken unwell the previous Tuesday.

Malcolm was a well-known and recognised person throughout Watchet and West Somerset, especially in the scouting community.

He first got involved with the scouts when he was eight years old, and the passion never dwindled throughout his life.

He was even involved with the scouts during his time with the British Army as part of the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry, when he helped the local sea scout troop in Gibraltar during his national service.

He was one of the last National Servicemen to be called up from Watchet, and served his time in the Light Infantry in Germany, Gibraltar and North Africa having completed his training in Bodmin, Cornwall.

Upon his return to Watchet he resumed working in the local building trade with L.J Merson and JW Date before joining the Watchet Paper Mill and then Hinkley Point where he spent the majority of his career until his retirement.

As well as his commitment to the scouts groups, he also played football for Watchet Town, and had a keen interest in boxing, both locally and nationally.

Other organisations and groups Malcolm was active within included the local Quantock Masonic Lodge, as well as being a member of the Watchet Court Leet where he held several positions over the years.

He married Glenda in 1964 and has two sons, Mark and Simon, and two grandchildren, Amelia and Thomas.

His family say he will be ‘sorely missed’ by all those who knew him, including the many generations of cubs and scouts he helped guide into their adult lives.

Condolences have been received from all around the world from past and present scouting and work colleagues saddened by the news of Malcolm’s passing, which in the scouting world is referred to as 'Gone Home' - a tracking term used by Scouting’s founder, Lord Baden Powell.

Simon Greenway, scout leader, said: “Malcolm Bale, our group scout leader, was a great friend and guiding light to everybody associated with 1st Watchet Scout Group. Malcolm has been a role model and inspiration to generations of young people in our community.

“I have spoken to former Scouts who remember Malcolm saving the Scout Group by becoming the only leader at the tender age of 17 and he has continued in that manner ever since. Malcolm’s resourcefulness was matched by his immense kindness. We are all devastated at this unexpected loss and our community has lost a real treasure."

The funeral will be held on Friday November 29 at St Decumans Church in Watchet at 11am.