David Robert ‘Bob’ Galbraith died on March 13, following a long struggle with early-onset dementia.

He was born in Stocksfield and attended Barnard Castle School, before heading to Oxford University to study physics, where he also rowed for Merton College.

He started his career with Post Office Telephones and later IBM, but after marrying his wife Elisabeth in 1970, he returned to Stocksfield to co-run the family business.

The building firm Gazzani and Galbraith, formerly Gazzani and Sons, had a yard on New Ridley Road, which had a mini petrol station, glass sheds, carpentry workshops and storage areas for vans.

Bob co-ran the business with his father, David Gazzani, and was the last of three generations to work for the company.

It built and maintained a good percentage of the homes in Stocksfield until the late 1980s, and also operated across the Tyne Valley.

One of the last projects it completed was the redevelopment of the station master’s house and veterinary surgery by Stocksfield railway station.

The firm’s red vans and trucks were a regular feature of village life for decades, and some houses in Stocksfield still have “Gazzani and Sons” embossed on their man-hole covers in the drive.

Bob’s son Simon said that by 1990, his father could claim he had been to nearly every house in Stocksfield, and was often called out to various home crises, even after the firm was wound up.

He was also known as a bit of a ‘dog whisperer’ in the village, and many dogs were left with Bob while their owners went on holiday.

Bob’s last job was as a lecturer of construction management at Northumbria University, where he was popular with both students and colleagues.

Unfortunately he was forced to retire at the age of 53, due to early-onset dementia

Having lost Elisabeth to cancer in 2008, he remained in Stocksfield until 2010, when it became impractical for him to continue living alone, and he moved to a care home in Cambridge.

Bob’s family described him as a kind, witty, fun and intelligent man, who was a great friend to many, a wonderful husband to Elisabeth and a fantastic father to his three children, Simon, Jane and Julia.

His funeral service will be held on Friday, April 6, at Bywell St Peter’s Church, with a gathering afterwards at the Stocksfield Community Association Hall.

All mourners are welcome and are asked to wear cheerful attire.