TEARS were shed and laughter shared as family, friends and generations of faithful customers came together to remember Thornbury’s favourite grocer.

Around 475 mourners gathered at St Mary’s Church on Monday to bid farewell to Barclay Riddiford, the town’s Mr Open All Hours, and pay their respects to his wife, children and relatives.

The theme song to the BBC sitcom Open All Hours, a programme rumoured to have been inspired by Barclay’s nocturnal habits, played as the coffin was carried into the church, putting a smile on the faces of many in the assembly.

During the packed service, the Rev Dr Jan van der Lely paid tribute to the hard worker, who rarely closed shop and was on several occasions discovered snoozing in the most unlikely places when exhaustion finally took its toll.

"He was fairly nocturnal in his habits and used to deliver a lot of his grocery order rounds late and through the night, especially around Tytherington and other surrounding villages," she told the assembly.

"Several families have come down in the morning to find him asleep at the table, in the kitchen, where he had gone in, emptied the order box out on to the table, sat down to sort out the bill and dropped off to sleep."

She added: "Similarly, he had been woken by the police, on late night patrol around the area, when they had found him unresponsive, sitting in the delivery van, and they knock on the window, fearing the worst, when he has actually just been fast asleep."

His victory in saving the town from an impeding wasp invasion will also go down in local history.

Relating his family and friends’ memories of his battle against the infestation, she said: "Barclay had followed the wasps back to their nests, which he then marked. He and his friends then went out, after dark, with spades and some diesel and destroyed the nests."

Mr Riddiford died at his Castle Street home at the age of 76 on Saturday, April 13, four hours after suffering a heart attack.

His daughter Jane recalled her father’s boundless generosity and dedication to his customers, in a tribute read by the vicar. The full extent of which, his son John who now runs the L.E Riddiford shop, only came to realise after Barclay’s death.

"There was never any suggestion that dad would retire," said Jane. "He wouldn’t have known what to do with himself.

"When John tried to take over his Sunday delivery round the day after he died, he got told off for not leaving seven pound coins on the table for one customer. 'Barclay always knew to leave the seven pound coins I need each week,’ they said. Other customers, two brothers who live together in an outlying village, had no idea what to order for their groceries – ‘Barclay always knew what we wanted,’ they told John."

Stranger on the Shore echoed through the church as Barclay was carried out of the church followed by his family.

As well as his son John, 48, and daughter Jane, 45, Barclay leaves wife Ann, 72.