THE unexpected death of Paul Grey, a kingpin of the furniture business in Swindon, has left his family devastated.

The 69-year-old who helped found Manor Furniture on the Cheney Manor Industrial Estate died in the early hours of August 6 shortly after having an operation on his heart.

Although the operation was a success, he died some hours later.

His son Kevin, 43, who is a manager at Manor Furniture, said: “We’ve all been left shocked. His surgeon was devastated since the operation went so well. But four hours later his blood pressure dropped and they couldn’t get it back up again.

“We weren’t prepared for it at all because he had been so well. He had been looking forward to getting himself back together and enjoying his retirement.”

The father-of-four, from Abbey Meads, spent his life working in the furniture business, including more than 30 years working for Normans in the Brunel Centre and in Cromwell Street.

Following a round of redundancies he went on to set up Manor Furniture with former colleagues at Normans, which he helped to run until his retirement about five years ago.

Kevin said: “He was one of the founding members of Manor Furniture after we were all made redundant from Normans. He helped me get a job there and then helped me with work here, and we worked together for 20 years.

“But we never took it home. Whatever happened at work he never took it home with him – something I always admired.

“He could be cantankerous, but had a heart of gold. He was always right, even when he was wrong. Even when you started a conversation knowing he was wrong he would convince you he was right and you’d walk away thinking he’d been right all along.

“He could be difficult but he would do anything for anybody.”

Since his retirement, Paul, who supported Manchester United, had enjoyed watching football and horse racing.

Kevin said: “He did enjoy a flutter. But I won’t miss his racing tips. I will miss all the banter we’d have about the football, because we supported different teams.”

One of Paul’s other sons, Darren, said: “He was a very moral man, he stood by his morals. He was a family man and he loved all of us and his grandchildren to bits. And he loved his wife as well.

“He was just a good, hard-working man really, and he loved a bet on the horses.”

Paul Collins, who also worked with Paul, said: “He was my manager at Normans and also my employer at Manor Furniture and I had the pleasure of working with him for nearly 20 years. He was a real old school gentleman who cared about customers and his employees with a passion and loyalty not shown any more.”

Paul is survived by his wife Doreen, children Michelle, Darren, Colin and Kevin, 10 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. His funeral will take place on August 19 at Kingsdown Crematorium from 11.15am.