A family has paid tribute to a man who was “a gentle giant who was the life and soul of every party”.

Jonathan Fox went into agriculture, which he stayed in throughout his career, and was also an avid football and classic cars fan.

His mum Jennifer said: “He was simply the best.”

Jonathan died in November at the age of 61 after a battle with cancer.

Born in Manea, Jonathan was brought up in Goosetree and, as well as attending Coates Primary School, spent much time with his father who was a blacksmith.

The Newcastle United FC and horse racing fan was known as an encyclopedia of tractors to friends and family, and grew an interest in farming.

“I’ve known Jonathan for 45 years; he worked on several farms in the area throughout his life,” Adam Barnes, Jonathan’s best friend and ex-work colleague, said.

“He had friends everywhere. If you met him for two minutes, you’d be his friend.

“He always had time for everybody and would help anybody.”

After studying at Sir Harry Smith Community College in Whittlesey, Jonathan did an apprenticeship in Wisbech and worked with farmer David Johnson.

Jonathan, known as ‘Chop’ to many, worked for various employers and before he became self-employed, won a sprayer operator of the year award for the East Midlands region.

“He knew every make of tractor,” said Jennifer.

“He also hated every day at school as he was not outside farming.”

A fan of Status Quo, too, Jonathan later moved to Whittlesey and was known to step-brother Alan as having “a dry sense of humour.

“It was just his way; he was a gentle giant.”

He also developed ‘chopperisms’, words and phrases Jonathan used to say, particularly on nights away with his friends, such as in Blackpool.

“We were in Blackpool and S Club 7’s ‘Reach’ played, and from then on, it stuck in his head,” Adam recalled.

“He turned round and said it was one of the happiest times of his life.

“He was the life and soul of every party for every occasion. He was funny without knowing he was.”

A funeral service took place at Fenland Crematorium, March today (Friday) followed by a wake at Childers Sports & Social Club in Whittlesey.