TRIBUTES have been paid to a village's "Mr Handyman" after his sudden death at the age of 50.

Family man Michael Stewart was a familiar face in Shincliffe, near Durham – known for helping out around the village and his work for St Mary's Church.

Mr Stewart died suddenly on Saturday while walking his dog.

The handyman, who ran his own business, is survived by his wife Sonia, daughter Jasmine, 15, step children Euan and Natasha and three-year-old grandson George.

Mrs Stewart said: "We're all in shock. We can't believe it.

"He was a wonderful family man. I just wish he had more time to spend with people and with family.

"Everyone always said he had a lot of time for them but he always wished he had more."

Originally from Shincliffe, he lived in Bowburn but was a well-known face in the village, where he was church warden at St Mary's.

The Northern Echo:

Michael Stewart featured on an episode of DIY SOS when he worked at Poplar Garden Centre, in Shincliffe

Michael Banks, a friend a fellow church warden, said: "It feels like the whole village is devastated. He was a hugely compassionate person. He gave a lot of time free of charge to help us refurbish the church hall and to keep the church maintained.

"When vulnerable people in the village needed something quick doing he would do it for them without charging them. He was in huge demand but he always had time for people and time for friends when they had problems.

"He was a guy with a great sense of humour and he was a good family man. He was a committed Christian, who put his faith into action.

"We are absolutely devastated. The whole of the community is grieving his loss and in support of Sonia and the family."

He set up his business Mr Handyman in 2015 and did work around the area.

Previously Mr Stewart had been the general manager at Poplar Tree Garden Centre, in Shincliffe.

Staff at the garden centre sent their condolences to his family and have set up a remembrance bench and condolence book for people to share their memories of the popular character.

Describing him as caring and compassionate, director Caroline Walker said: "A larger than life character who touched many people’s hearts here in Shincliffe.

"Michael very much constructed our independent garden centre and initiated the opening and progressive development of Brambles Coffee Shop of which we will be forever in gratitude.”