The family of a well-known theatre manager have paid tribute to him as a “devoted husband, dad and friend” following his death at the age of 59.

Walter Swan, the creative development manager of Ilkley Playhouse, died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Moor Lane, Burley-in- Wharfedale, on Easter Monday.

His wife, Niccola, 55, and sons Laurie, 26, and Finlay, 24, described Walter as “the most loving husband and father we could ever have wished for.”

He will be remembered as a passionate member of the Playhouse, supporter of the Ilkley Literature Festival and a keen sportsman.

Niccola said: “He was a devoted dad who loved his boys to bits. He was really well known in Ilkley. You couldn’t walk down the street without people stopping to say hello.”

Mr Swan moved to Burley-in- Wharfedale from Croydon with his family in 1997.

He joined the Burley Millennium Theatre Group, where he acted and directed in various plays before going to the Ilkley Playhouse.

He also worked as a freelance writer for publications including The Daily Telegraph, Yorkshire Ridings Magazine and the Ilkley Gazette. He taught English at Gateways School in Harewood for a time and gave home tutoring.

He published two books with friend Yvette Huddleston – A Day in a Dale – based on features the two had written for the paper and The Barefoot Shepherdess and Women of the Dales. Mr Swann, a keen amateur photographer, also provided the images for both books.

A member of Otley Golf Club, he also played squash and he took part in fundraising cycling challenges.

Graham Smith, the chairman of the board of trustees at the Playhouse said: “Walter’s loss is immeasurable. He was a great actor and a very creative man.”

Niccola also paid tribute to the emergency service workers who attended when Walter fell ill at home.

She said arrangements for the funeral were still being made.

Yvette Huddleston said: “Walter really was the best friend a person could hope to have.

“He was kind, generous, funny, intelligent, interesting and interested.”