TRIBUTES have been paid to the selfless man who founded Bridgwater Foodbank.

Keith Barnard, who was 79, died at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, on November 9.

The current manager at the charity, Phil Jarman, said Mr Barnard's vision enabled the foodbank to be set up in Northgate in early 2013.

"Keith realised there were lots of people in the area who were struggling," said Mr Jarman.

"He felt the community and churches together should be in a position to help.

"He pulled it together and managed to get a property rent-free from Somerset County Council."

Four years later, Bridgwater Foodbank relocated to another county council property in Mount Street.

When the council decided to sell that building, it gave the foodbank first option to buy it.

"They gave us two years to raise the money," said Mr Jarman.

"Keith was convinced we'd get there. He said, 'Have faith. If we pray hard enough and work hard enough we'll manage it'. And we did thanks to him."

Mr Barnard, who ran his own electrical business before his retirement, was a devout Christian who helped set up Newtown King's Church, in Kendal Road.

"He lived his faith every day, always concerned about his fellow man and supporting people within the town and local community," said Mr Jarman.

"He gave of himself every day. There was nothing he wouldn't do for anybody.

"I don't think the people of Bridgwater realise just how much they owe Keith. He's going to be greatly missed.

"Without the foodbank there would be so many people going hungry. I reckon we've fed 30,000 people since 2013."

In recent years, Mr Barnard, who was a member of Victoria Bowls Club, had taken a back seat at the foodbank, although he was always there to offer advice and muck in to help.

A grandfather, he leaves a widow, Ann, and three adult children, Catherine and twins Stephen and Sally.

The funeral service is at Sedgemoor Crematorium at 11am on Tuesday - the hearse will stop off outside the foodbank beforehand to allow people to pay their respects - with a memorial service at St George's Church, Wembdon, at noon. Covid-19 restrictions apply.

Donations in Mr Barnard's memory for Bridgwater Food Bank may be left at the church or forwarded to Bridgwater Funeral Services, 15 Bristol Road, Bridgwater, TA6 4AU.