TRIBUTES have been paid to a Worcestershire gamekeeper who has been found dead with gunshot wounds.

John Spurling was well known for the game shoots he ran in Elmley Lovett, near Droitwich, over the last 25 years and his widow Alma said everyone was struggling to come to terms with his sudden death at the age of 75.

“He always kept people amused, he was thoughtful and kind to people and would look after anybody,” she said. “Keepering is all he wanted.”

Mr Spurling was born in Suffolk in 1933 and joined the Navy after leaving school. During his time as a stoker and eventually petty officer he was awarded a commendation for rescuing a ship mate from freezing arctic waters.

It was while on leave in the Isle of Man he met his future wife, and although friends said their holiday romance would never last the pair married two years later.

After nine years he left the Navy to pursue and life-long desire to be a gamekeeper. Initially working as a farm labourer he was later given the opportunity to get back into keepering in Suffolk.

“He was thrilled to bits, it was his life, it just came naturally to him, he did not have to learn anything because he came from a long line of keepers and had been with his dad and grandad,” said Mrs Spurling. By 1968 the couple and their three daughters Kate, Christine and Tracy, and moved to Westwood Park where Mr Spurling worked for Richard Hickman for 21 years.

Mrs Spurling, aged 71, described her husband as someone who loved the outdoors, his gundogs and birds.

“We agreed from the beginning I would do the inside and he would do the outside,” she said.

“He kept the garden beautiful and worked seven days a week keeping his pheasants; he was so devoted to the job.”

She also described him as someone who would go out of his way to help others, visiting elderly people in the community, using his experiences from a quadruple heart bypass to reassure coronary patients and keeping the local graveyard free from moles.

Mr Spurling, who died on Friday, January 30, leaves his wife, three daughters and four grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at 2pm on Monday, February 16, at St Michael’s Church in Elmley Lovett.

l An inquest has been opened into Mr Spurling’s death after he was found dead in a field near his home. The hearing has been adjourned for a date to be fixed.