A legend in the lower reaches of the River Teifi for more than half a century coracle fisherman and craftsman Bernard Thomas of Llechryd has died aged 91.

Popularly and affectionately known as Barney, he was regarded as king of the coracles, was the subject of countless TV, radio and newspaper stories and made headlines in 1974 when paddling a coracle across the English Channel.

Over the years visitors and locals alike marvelled at his skill in making the frail craft which he kept outside his home Spring Bank near the river and Llechryd Bridge.

He was vice-president of the Coracle Society.

At the outbreak of the Second World War aged sixteen, he joined the Merchant Navy taking part in the Russian conveys. He was torpedoed and survived many days in an open boat in the Atlantic.

In 1992 aged 70 he took up microlight flying but during one of his first flights crashed into an oak tree near his home and was hospitalised.

He passed away suddenly but peacefully at Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest on Thursday, August 29 and leaves his daughters Jan and Val to whom the sympathy of people over a wide area is extended.

The funeral was held on Friday with a well-attended service at St. Tydfil Church Llechryd where the Rev Gwynfi Jenkins of Cardigan officiated, followed by interment in the village cemetery. The arrangements were carried out with dignity by Funeral Director Peter Evans of Cardigan.