The family of a much-loved fruit grower have paid tribute to him after he passed away aged 63.

Father-of-two Paul Spencer died on March 8, following a short illness. 

Paul Spencer grew up in Twinstead, south of Sudbury, and attended Hedingham School from 1971. 

He went on to study agriculture at Writtle College and in 1976 he moved to Wickham St Paul, where he and his father Edward, established Wickham Fruit Farm. 

In 1984 he married his wife Liz, and together they grew the business from humble beginnings, selling fruit from a straw bale in the middle of a field, to Spencer's Farm Shop and Café, as it is known today.

East Anglian Daily Times: Paul and his wife Liz at Wickham Farm ShopPaul and his wife Liz at Wickham Farm Shop (Image: Liz Spencer)

In a statement, Mr Spencer's wife Liz and two daughters Jenny and Becky paid a heartfelt tribute to him.

They said: "An active member of Halstead Young Farmers in the late 70s and through the 80s, Paul enjoyed being part of a successful tug of war team.

"Here he forged many friendships that have lasted through to this day, providing invaluable comfort and support over the past few difficult months to Paul and his family.

East Anglian Daily Times: Paul working with the help of his dogPaul working with the help of his dog (Image: Liz Spencer)

"Continuing his active lifestyle once the Young Farmer days came to an end, Paul joined Sudbury Rowing Club, where he spent many a happy morning training on the River Stour, as well as travelling further afield for competitions.

"He was a staple feature of Sudbury Regatta for many years, where he could usually be found serving up the hog roast.

"He was passionate about fruit growing and this has shone through in the success and popularity of the business that he created."

A memorial service will be held for Mr Spencer at All Saints Church, in Wickham St Paul in north Essex, on Thursday, April 11 at 2.30pm.