Tributes to “a lovely man” have been paid following the death of gourmet food company director David Lewis.

A thanksgiving service for Mr Lewis, who lived in Hawksworth and was the founder president of the Rotary Club of Otley Chevin, was held at Otley All Saints Parish Church last Friday following a private cremation at Skipton.

The 69-year-old, who was married with two children, died in hospital in Tenerife after contracting an illness on holiday.

He was a director with Northallerton-based Lewis & Cooper, a gourmet food, wine and hamper company – which, despite his surname, he had no family connection to – that he was involved with for nearly 30 years.

Lewis & Cooper chairman Dr David Gearey said: “David was a lovely man, one of nature’s true gentlemen.

“We’ll all miss him as a person and for his wise counsel. His ability to take the heat out of an argument and provide the foundations for a strong consensus was a great asset.

“David was also a major advocate of our plans to expand the business, and our new Harrogate store, which opens this week, will be a fitting testament to his ambition.”

Mr Lewis’s family, including his widow Vyv and two daughters Sophie and Anna, had asked for donations in his memory to be made to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

He had joined Lewis & Cooper’s board as a non-executive director in the late 1990s, after first becoming involved with the company as an auditor almost three decades ago.

Mr Lewis also had a long association with global accountancy and business advice specialists PKF, and worked from its Leeds office from 1975. He had spent the previous eight years with the firm in British Honduras – now Belize – and Barbados.

He had trained with Clay Russell & Co in Nuneaton from 1960, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1966 before starting his career with PKF a year later.

A keen Rotarian, he became founder president of the Rotary Club of Otley Chevin in 1989 and went on to be closely involved with Rotary’s district organisation and its charitable campaigns.