Tributes to respected ex-policeman Eric, 77
FRIENDS and former colleagues have paid tributes to long-serving former South Devon police officer Eric Ward, who has died at his home in Ogwell aged 77.
One former colleague wrote 'he was just a lovely man and respected by those he worked with' while another added 'Eric was a big man in every way but in particular he was a true gentleman'.
Eric was born in Chesterfield and did his National Service based in Honiton with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. It was while based there he fell in love with Devon, and he joined the then-Devon Constabulary in 1957.
Posted to Torquay as a probationer in 1958, he then became the 'village bobby' at Swimbridge, near Barnstaple, complete with the obligatory pushbike. He and his wife Ann lived in a house which doubled as the village police station and came furnished with its own cell.
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In the early Sixties he was based at Exeter's Middlemoor police station working in the traffic section, and had spells working at Honiton and Cullompton before moving to Paignton as a sergeant in 1971.
After a decade working from Paignton, he moved to Newton Abbot as an inspector. His career also included duties with the helicopter and motorcycle divisions, and he retired from the force in 1990.
He then spent 10 years working at Torbay Hospital as the Torbay and South Devon Coroner's Officer.
He gained a degree from the Open University in 1985.
Away from work, his passions were wildlife and, in particular, birdwatching.
In addition to his wife Ann, he leaves three sons and seven grandchildren.
Son Paul said the family were very grateful for the dedication and care of Rowcroft Hospice nurses, district nurses and respiratory nursing staff during Mr Ward's illness.
A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, March 27, at 1.30pm at St Bartholomew's in Ogwell.
Paul Ward added: "That was one of his favourite places, where he could watch the birds out on the estuary."
Tributes have been paid on a website for former police officers. Another former colleague wrote: "He was an excellent man and policeman."