A vet who spent 35 years treating animals in West Cumbria has died at the age of 91.

Tony Stewart moved to the area in 1958 and later established practices in Whitehaven and Egremont.

His family have paid tribute to a "gentleman" who "inspired admiration from all areas of his life" following his death last month.

He leaves behind wife Sarah, sons Neil, Alex and Daniel, 15 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Tony was born in Dumfries on March 4, 1928. His family moved to Eyemouth, Berwickshire in 1933, where he grew up.

He graduated from the Royal Dick Veterinary College, Edinburgh, in the summer of 1954.

While at university he met his future wife, Heather. After graduating, they moved to Midsomer Norton, Somerset for six months after Tony was offered a job there.

The couple married in Edinburgh in March 1955 and then moved to Egremont where Tony went to work for Jim Bolton.

They moved to Chester le Street, Co Durham, in 1958 for two years until 1960 when Jim Bolton offered Tony a partnership.

In 1960 he moved to Foxhouses Road in Whitehaven and Bolton & Stewart was founded.

Tony and Heather welcomed their son, Neil, in the summer of 1963.

As time went on Jim retired and Tony took on a new partner, Steve Smith. Stewart & Smith was formed and they moved into custom built premises in St Bridgets Lane, Egremont.

Neil said this was a particularly busy time for his dad as he had also bought Westlands Farm in 1978 which was to become his home for the next 37 years.

After a short battle with cancer, his wife passed away in 1985.

Neil said: "For most men this would be an end, but not dad - it heralded a new chapter in his life."

Tony met Sarah and they were married on September 19, 1986. He was "delighted" to now have three sons.

He retired in March 1990 and kept himself busy looking after his family and enjoying animals and his social life, with Probus and his ‘birthday club’ of friends who all met up to celebrate each other's birthdays.

Tony also enjoyed his fellowship in St John's Church and being Almoner for the Lodge with the Freemasons for over 20 years.

Animals were his true passion, particularly horses, sheep and dogs.

He bred and showed championship winning Miniature Pinschers, Labradors and Rottweilers and also showed Charollais sheep.

Tony travelled extensively with Sarah and only really slowed down in the last two years.

Neil said: "Dad was a gentleman and a gentle man, who cared about all of the important things we strive to value in life - love, kindness, compassion and a non-judgemental acceptance of his fellow man or woman.

"Dad’s ability to pass on his wisdom through his actions and by example were his greatest gift to us.

"To me, he was my inspiration and the reason I am the person I have become.

"He was my ‘James Herriot’, Cumbria’s ‘James Herriot’, treating animals in West Cumbria, between the fells and the sea from High Harrington in the north to Millom in the south.

"We will all miss his presence in our lives."