The village of Colnbrook is grieving the loss of the man who was a founder member of its parish council, long term caretaker at its school and even featured in its drama group's Christmas pantomimes.

David MacDougald was caretaker at Poyle First School (later Pippins) where he and his wife Margaret lived from 1981 in the school bungalow until his retirement, meeting literally thousands of pupils and parents during the decades he was there.

Former parish council chairman Peter Hood who along with Mr MacDougald was a founder member of the authority in 1995, said his friend had been adored by the children at the school.

He said: "On one occasion just before Christmas he left footprints around and in the school leading up to a blackboard where he left a message from Father Christmas. Coincidently builders working at the school had just removed two scaffold poles that had been laying on the grass where they had left indentations.

"The children told Mr Mac, that the real Santa had visited the school overnight. They were sure because his sleigh had left marks where it had landed and there were footprints in the class room.

"This brought a tear to David's eye."

Mr MacDougald served on the parish council for 20 years and was also a member and chairman of Colnbrook Residents Association, as well as a leading supporter of the village hall.

He was also a member of Colnbrook Amateur Stage Theatre CAST, appearing in pantomimes.

He was a familiar figure at memorial services held in the village proudly wearing his beret and medals gained as a Territorial Army Reservist.

He died on June 24 at Thames Hospice in Windsor after a long battle against cancer.

The funeral is on Wednesday, July 15 - open to close family members only because of current restrictions.

A memorial service is planned for later.