Dozens have paid tribute to their ‘larger than life’ friend with a 'heart of gold’ who died earlier this month.

James ‘Big Jim’ Farnaby, a lorry driver from Delaporte Close, Epsom, died suddenly at the age of 54 on February 21 from a blood clot after being admitted to St Helier Hospital with a ruptured hernia.

A regular at the Barley Mow pub in Epsom for more than 30 years, Mr Farnaby has been described by his many friends as a ‘big, gentle and kind’ man who was always willing to help.

Steve Davis, 56, of Pipes Hill, had been friends with him for the last 43 years.

He said: "He had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone.

"Three of us got together years ago and we were like the three musketeers. Then the other guy moved away and it was just me and Jim.

"We went on holiday together, you name it we did it. He’s part of the family and he was my daughter’s godfather. It’s been a big blow. I have lost a good friend."

So well loved was Mr Farnaby that five years ago Barley Mow regulars rallied together to raise the funds to buy him a new Jack Russell puppy, which he called Barley in honour of the pub.

Phil Innes, 45, manager at the Barley Mow pub, said: "He was a larger than life character. He was very well loved by all the staff and customers. He was very involved in the community and the pub.

"Every Christmas he used to dress up as Father Christmas for the old age pensioners and bring all the presents. He was very kind and always had time for people. People are shocked and very upset."

The pub has said they intend to hold an event in honour of Mr Farnaby for the many regulars who knew him. Hundreds are expected to travel from across the UK to pay tribute to Mr Farnaby at his funeral, a date for which has not yet been announced.