THE BELLS of Woodchester parish church rang out a farewell tribute to longstanding and popular bellringer Lance Cordwell.

Lance, who died at the age of 92, began bellringing in Woodchester when he was just 14, and continued the hobby for another 75 years.

It is thought that in that time he would have climbed the steps to the bell tower so many times that it would have equated to climbing Mt Everest four times.

Lance, who died at the end of July, was born in Woodchester in 1913 and lived there all his life.

His daughter, Ann said she thought he was the oldest Woodchester resident who was also born in the village.

She added: "He had a real character - he was quite a private person but had a sense of honour.

"He would have been deeply touched to have seen so many family, friends and colleagues at his funeral and particularly to have heard a farewell tribute from his bell-ringing friends."

In his youth Lance also played cricket and football for the village.

"He was generally considered to be a formidable opponent and it was said that it was best to be on the same side as Lance," added Ann.

During the Second World War, Lance joined the RAF where he was part of the ground crew and helped with the construction of airfields in Europe and the Far East.

After returning home, Lance ran the family firm of undertakers and builders, E W Cordwell and Sons.

Lance, whose wife Kate died in 1995 after a long illness, spent the final months of his life at Horsfall House in Minchinhampton and leaves behind his daughter, Ann and son Martin.