THE family of a Bradford man with a “heart of gold” has paid an emotional tribute to him.

James Telford, 77, died after going missing from his home in Bradford.

The father-of-four was loved by many across the district for his community attitude and “always had time for everyone”.

The week before Mr Telford died, he left a note in his window which read ‘Welcome at this house here’ for anyone without shelter or a place to go.

Originally from Ballyhenry in Belfast, he came to Bradford as a child when he would escape from school and hop on a bus to take himself home or Manningham park, a place he loved. But his grandma knew where to find him and often marched him back to school.

In his youth he was a keen wrestler and a talented wood work student as well as a motorbike enthusiast.

He was approached by Norton Motorcycle Company to race their bikes but his father refused to sign the forms out of fear he would come to harm.

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He had a short lived career in the Merchant Navy before he was offered his dream apprenticeship in joinery. He held many jobs around Bradford, from a foreman at Anderton Springs in Bingley, a delivery driver for Sunblest and joined the building industry at Multiskill.

But his life-long role was taking care of his four daughters, grandchildren and those around him.

His family told the Telegraph & Argus: “He was fiercely independent and free spirited, always doing things his own way but with great consideration of other people.

"Jimmy was very well known and liked by everyone in the local community as he always had time for everyone. He was known to be a kind and generous man to a fault. His greatest pleasure was in taking care of other people.

"His biggest priority was always to make sure that his four daughters were happy. If they were happy, he was happy. This extended to his parents and sisters. Jimmy would never ask for anything in return.

"Despite having dementia his main consideration was for others. Even when his memory was at its worse, he would ring his daughters to tell them that they always had somewhere to stay."

Mr Telford had a passion for animals and hated the thought of them being caged. He was given some budgies which would fly freely around his house.

He also had a rabbit which would sit next to him whilst he watched TV and drink from a bowl at the side of him.

His family added: "We would like to thank everyone for their help in the search for our Dad. The support was overwhelming and offered us valuable support at a very distressing time. Stories came back to us, as we desperately tried to find him of the lengths that people were going through to help us with our search. We read every single message and took great comfort from the fact that we were not alone in trying to find him.

"But mostly that our lovely dad who had spent his whole life caring for others was being cared for so much in return.

"We would like to extend our thanks to the West Yorkshire police who went above and beyond for us. From the minute they received our call to say that our dad was missing they did everything in their power to try and find him for us.

"They treated our dad and all of our family with enormous respect during the search, when giving us the sad news and ever since."