THE family of singer and artist Geoffrey Shovelton have paid tribute to the talented tenor.

Mr Shovelton died, aged 80, on July 4, in Androscoggin Hospice in Auburn, United States.

The father-of-three was born in Flapper Fold Lane, Atherton, in 1936, the only child of Richard and Kathleen Shovelton.

He attended Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton after which he furthered his education at Hull University, before moving to London to work as a teacher and fulfil his ambitions to become a singer.

His singing career started in oratorio and he quickly progressed to become a principal tenor with Scottish Opera and Basilica Opera, until he was signed for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company for its 1975 to 1976 tour.

He was renowned for his work with the company, especially for singing Gilbert and Sullivan in the UK and on tour in America.

When the company closed in 1982 he continued to sing Gilbert and Sullivan and produce and give talks on them until his retirement in 2005.

The grandfather-of-six was first married to wife Margaret, who he met at University and they had three children Claire, Dominic and Bruno.

Following the annulment of his first marriage, he met Deborah Clague, through his singing career and the pair were married in 1993.

The couple moved to New Portland in Maine, America, in 2001 to be close to Mrs Shovelton's family.

Aside from his singing talent, Mr Shovelton was also a talented artist and designed posters, flyers and other artwork for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and was also a keen photographer.

In a tribute to his father on behalf of his family and friends Bruno Shovelton, said: "He was a gentle and peace-loving man, rarely known to raise his voice when not on stage.

"He was a loyal friend, who accepted everyone for who they were.

"He loved conversation; whether talking with devoted fans backstage, colleagues on tour or shopkeepers when buying ice-cream for his children.

"He was a doting, if necessarily itinerant father, endlessly patient and generous in his interest, his wisdom and his delicious birthday cakes."

A memorial mass in St Richard's Church, in Mayfield Street Atherton, will be arranged for October.