TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved business stalwart who has had died aged 81.

William Wass, owner of Wass’s Fishing Tackle in Copord, died after a short illness.

Mr Wass took over ownership of the shop from his father, who founded the business in 1935 in Mersea Road.

The shop is thought to be one of the oldest fishing tackle shops still trading in the county.

Mr Wass’ colleague paid tribute to him.

They said: “He was still very active up until eight weeks ago and was still trading and selling in the shop at the age of 81.

“The business is staying with the family and will continue to trade under his name.

“Will was a keen angler, golfer and had recently taken up bowling, but he was foremost a family man. William will never be extinguished from our hearts and memories, he will be forever missed, but his legacy will live on through the shop he loved so much for his whole life.

“For many of us he was also a close friend and wonderful colleague.”

Mr Wass is survived by his wife, Val, and son Andrew.

The shop moved to Long Wyre Street in 1944 after German bombs blasted through its former premises.

In 2002, the firm relocated to London Road in Copford and axed the cycle arm of the business.

Friends and customers are being invited to leave messages of condolence on the firm’s Facebook page.

So far more than 200 people have written messages paying tribute to Mr Wass.

To pay your respects visit Facebook and search Wass’s Fishing Tackle Ltd.