Tributes have been paid to the long-serving chairman of East Budleigh Parish Council, who has died aged 65.

Councillor Steve Baker was a member of the council for seven years, and was also an RNLI lifeboatman and a successful businessman.

However, it is as a dedicated family man that he will be best remembered.

Born in 1948, Steve met wife Diane at a nightclub in Exeter, and they got married in 1970.

They had three children – Toby, Emma and Kate – and later six grandchildren.

Steve lived for most of his life in Exmouth, where he served on the lifeboat for 18 years, before he and Diane moved to East Budleigh in 1999.

Having founded the successful firm Baker Electrical, he later turned his passion for flying – inherited from his father, who served in the RAF – into a business, becoming the South West franchisee for Virgin Hot Air balloons, and later founding SB Aviation with fixed wing aircraft.

Having fallen in love with East Budleigh, Steve joined the parish council, and as chairman threw himself into the task of improving the village and representing its residents.

Among his achievements were compiling the village’s flood plan, and driving the parish council’s takeover of the Hayes Lane car park and toilets, while he also played a leading role in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and was proud to serve as chairman when the village’s statue of Sir Walter Raleigh was unveiled.

Council vice-chairman Jennifer Ware said: “He was an amazing man. His knowledge of the village and local issues was amazing, and he is going to be a very hard act to follow.

“We are all absolutely heartbroken that he is gone. As a chairman we were very proud to have him, and I think the village was very fortunate to have him.”

Wife Diane said: “He wasn’t afraid to put his head over the parapet and get things moving. He used to spend a lot of time on the parish council, for a little village.”

Although hugely dedicated to his community, his family say that most important to Steve was his role as a husband, father and grandfather.

Son Toby said: “He was dedicated to his family, and when his grandchildren came along he was a brilliant grandparent, or ‘pop-pops’, to them.

“Having a job where he was his own boss, in his free time it was his family who always came first.”