TRIBUTES have been paid to an “old-fashioned English gent” thought to have been the oldest man in Oxfordshire.

Horace Robert Arthur Preedy – who lived through two world wars, served his country and spent his working life helping others, died on Sunday aged 107.

In recent years, his family said he took pride in his home and garden in Garston Lane, Wantage. After living there for the last 31 years, he died in his sleep at home last weekend.

Mr Preedy’s daughter, Brenda Owens, 68, who lived with him for the last five years, said: “He was a very honest person: a stoical personality, but he liked to help the elderly.

“I remember a woman once saying to my mother he was a ‘real gentleman’, and he was – an old- fashioned English gent.”

Born in London on January 17, 1906, Mr Preedy was the third of four children. He left school at 14 as an apprentice painter and decorator, and was still to be found painting his own house at the age of 90.

When the Second World War started he took a job as a telephone operator, helping to keep military units in touch.

After the war ended he took a civil service exam, and went to work for the War Damage Commission, later transferring to the National Assistance Board. He would help welfare claimants.

Mr Preedy met his wife Mary while she was working as a waitress at Lyons Corner House in London.

They married on June 23, 1933 and went to live in Westcliffe in Essex. They had two children, Brenda in 1944, and John in 1949.

The couple moved to Wantage in 1982 to be close to their daughter and her husband Les, who ran the Ardington Pottery from 1975 to 2001.

Mrs Owens said: “He didn’t crave company to any extent.

“He had enough of that from his family. He was always doing jobs around the house and in the half acre of garden.

“He grew fruit and vegetables and tended long, traditional flower beds.”

Mr Preedy is survived by both of his children, his grandchildren Tim and Nick Owens, and great- grandchildren Rachel, Sarah, Daniel and Esther.

His funeral will be held at Oxford Crematorium in Barton on Monday, June 10, at 3.45pm.

l The website Oldest In Britain lists 107-year-old Elsie King from Wallingford (born August 3, 1905) as the county’s oldest person.