FAMILY and friends have celebrated the life of one of north Cumbria’s best known - and loved - businessmen.

During his long and successful career Bob Paton, 83, a former Carlisle Grammar School pupil, built up the respected and successful Mercedes Benz dealership at Rosehill, earning his reputation as a “true gentleman of the car trade”.

Before his Carlisle Crematorium funeral service got underway yesterday - broadcast live over Facebook because of coronavirus restrictions which limited numbers - his son Steve summed his dad with these heartfelt words: “He was the most amazing dad, and a true gentleman.”

The service heard a succession of tributes to Bob.

Celebrant Anne Avison spoke of the joy he and his wife Margaret got from their home and garden, where he loved to sit in his summer house, in past years listening to Terry Wogan on the radio and watching the birdlife.

A devoted family man, he had a wonderful sense of humour. “He was a very modest man,” said Mrs Avison, remarking on how he had an incredible “business mind.”

“He was a strong man, honest, and always fair.

“He was quick to solve any problems. His glass was always half full. He was a wonderful husband and a devoted father and grandad.”

It was in the quality car trade that Bob Paton professionally made his mark.

After a happy childhood he became an “enthusiastic” pupil at school and excelled in his running, attending Carlisle Grammar School where he met many life long friends. He took an apprenticeship at Austin Rover British Leyland in Birmingham.

It was while there that he met and fell deeply in love with Margaret.

They moved to Carlisle to raise their first born Corrinne, followed soon by their sons Stuart and Steve, living at Ghyll Road Scotby where they enjoyed a warm and loving family life.

Starting at Blackfriars Street, Bob with his dad, and brothers Bill and Jim, began growing the family business. After expanding, they relocated to premises at Victoria Viaduct where they continued to grow as a friendly professional car showroom.

After visiting Sweden, where Volvo left a great impression on Bob, he introduced the brand to Cumbria, making Volvo cars popular in the county.

In 1986 the company decided to develop the Mercedes franchise by building a brand new showroom at Rosehill.

They created the flagship site for Mercedes Benz. Working with family and friends he enjoyed many happy years as a director. “He was a wonderful husband, a devoted father and grandfather guiding and protecting his family through life,” said the family.

As the service was shown online, nearly 1,000 people logged on the the Facebook page operated by George Hudson & Sons Ltd, the Wigton Road funeral directors who organised the service.

The comments included: “A true gentleman and a family that could have not been kinder to me,” said Janey Hardy-Graham; and “Always a pleasure to do business with,” wrote Alison Towers.