The south west is mourning the loss of a farming great.

Brian Littlewood Peace of Willicroft Farm in Rackenford, near Tiverton, sadly passed away on October 13.

Brian has been hailed as "an extraordinary public spirited and generous man" who changed so much for the region's farmers.

He co-founded Mole Valley Farmers (MVF) with John James in 1960.

A cost-cutting farmers' emporium, the company had a significant impact on farming businesses in Devon.

Ranald Fowler, who was a board member for MVF alongside Brian, said: "So began a long association and friendship with this extraordinary public spirited and generous man.

"This became apparent over time with his single-minded focus on developing the fledgling company to bring maximum price advantage to the small scale farmers around South Molton who had little bargaining power.

"Subsequently, most farm inputs were able to be purchased at cheaper prices than local suppliers offered - some by margins of over 50 per cent."

As more and larger farmers realised the advantage of buying from their own co-operative, MVF flourished.

When Brian stood down after 20 years of his chairmanship, the company's turnover stood at £33million.

It had started in a room in South Molton and when he left it, MVF had seven branches throughout Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

Although an enormous achievement in itself, there are countless other commitments that Brian managed and excelled at.

He chaired the Devon and Food Farming committee, the Devon committee for the Milk Marketing Board, Tiverton NFU and the Devon and Cornwall committee for National Milk Records.

His focus extended beyond the south west, too. Brian was chair of the trustees of Farming Aid to Africa and a trustee of the Bicton Overseas Agricultural Trust. In 1991 he travelled to Ethiopia with Bob Geldof.

Away from the farming world Brian played a significant part of his local community.

He was a parish councillor in Rackenford, a general commissioner of Tiverton's Inland Revenue division, he became a district councillor then magistrate and was also a governor of Rackenford Primary School.

Through all of this service to farming and his community, Brian and his wife Jen continued to run their dairy farm.

Friends David Cocks QC and Sarah Child JP, OBE said: "It was usual to be held up behind his dairy herd as it progressed towards milking along the old Tiverton road, and we gradually learnt what a huge range of activities he managed to fit in with the life of a hands on farmer."

In 1996 Brian was honoured with the Prince of Wales Award of Honour for services to agriculture.

Two years later he was given the Bicton College Jubilee Award for Agriculture and Education in Devon and in 1998 Brian was made president of the Devon County Show.

Commenting on the breadth and depth of Brian's achievements, friend Bob Connell said: "He was not your average Devon farmer!

"He was extremely talented and a very modest man who has never bragged or sought reward for all his many hours of service to committees, organisations and education.

"He was also very caring and compassionate man who has given confidential help to many people in his locality."