HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a great-grandfather who was known for his eccentric choice of hats.

Harry Levey, dubbed Harry the Hat and “quite the character”, died after battling a heart and kidney conditions.

Famed for his flowery and seasonal top hats Harry was a legend on the south Essex folk music scene as well as a TV antique star.

He died aged 86 while staying at Elizabeth House Care Home, in Hadleigh.

Son Mike said everyone loved him and he lived a full life.

Mr Levey, 60, of Shoebury said: “He died on November 23 after living with the conditions for some time.

“He joined the Hoy Folk Club in 1970 and took more involvement as time went on. When it changed to the Hoy and Anchor Folk Club he kept with it and was there for 50 years.

“He and my mother were part of the Essex Folk Festival and Leigh Folk Festival and used to book acts too.

“He made a big impact on the scene and played a huge part in it too. So many people are coming forward with kind words and that’s wonderful.

“He worked as a metal polisher and that’s such a dirty job so he wore a cap and someone came into his antique shop with a top hat and it grew from there.

“He also used to do antique shows and appeared on TV for the opening of Flog It.

“At the age of 71 he and friends crossed south India on motorbikes - it took about eight weeks and was covered by Sky News.”

Proud son Mike said Harry never felt his age and acted much younger too. He said the family are coping after the death and it was not a surprise.

Harry had beaten the’ odds twice after being given just days and weeks to live.

Mr Levey added: “Dad lived an active full life and never worked for anyone and didn’t like taking orders - perhaps except from mum. He was a free spirit and so many people are saying how much he helped them. The funeral is on Friday in Southend, but due to the Covid pandemic we are asking people send flowers and not attend.”

“Please contact L Brand in Stanford-le-Hope.”