A much-loved great grandfather from Garston, who has died aged 80, was a talented “song and dance man” who had a passion for animation.

Ken Clark, from Westlea Avenue, Garston, grew up in Watford and spent most of his career working at Odhams, the printing company.

However, just two months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Ken passed away on December 5, 2009, at the Peace Hospice.

Family and friends paid tribute to him at a service at West Herts Crematorium on Monday, December 14.

Ken was born in Watford on December 24, 1924, and grew up in the town with his brother Ron and three sisters, Doreen (who now lives in Australia), Jean and Angela.

He went to Central Primary School but left formal education when he was 14.

Ken was working for an insurance company in London when war broke out, and he was called up to serve in the Royal Air Force. However, he never saw active service.

He would eventually spend his career working at Odhams, after completing an apprenticeship at the printers.

One day in 1951 while out on their motorbikes, Ken and his friends Bob Loader and Derek Sanders visited Welwyn Garden City and bumped into Jean Griffiths and her friends Ann and June.

Not only did Ken and Jean become a couple and celebrate their marriage in 1953, but their friends also paired up and married.

Ann and Derek now live in Canada, while Bob and June moved to Australia.

Ken and Jean were married for 56 years until his death and lived together in Westlea Avenue for the past 52 years.

Their family was completed with the births of their four children - Helen, Ian, Tracey and Lee.

They also have six grandchildren – Sarah, Craig, Daisy, James, Joshua and Jonathan – and two great grandchildren, Faith and Brooke.

Ken was well known as a “song and dance man”. He loved tap dancing and for many decades appeared on stage in numerous productions with the Cassio and Watford Operatic Societies.

He also worked voluntary for the Talking Newspaper for the Blind and would write and record stories for the publication.

However, his true “labour of love” was animation. As an animator, Ken was a member of the Grasshopper Group, which met for 35 years up to the mid-1950s. He helped to produce a film called Battle of Wangapore, which won several awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

He also spent many years compiling a history of British animation, which he had hoped to publish shortly before his death.

Ken's daughter Tracey described her father as a “the sort of dad everybody would have loved”.

She said: “He was an extremely multi-talented person. He was a writer, researcher and animator. He was heavily involved in the operatic societies in Watford. Whatever was going on he was a part of it.

“For the past 50 years he's been researching the history of British animated film. He was on the verge of finding a publisher when he died. That was his lifelong love.

“He was a fantastic man; a great family man. He loved all his kids. He was the sort of dad everybody would have loved. As children we were so lucky to have him. He was so creative and artistic. He would turn his hand to anything.

“As a researcher he saw the importance of writing things down and we're uncovering all sorts of things he wrote down.

“But we will remember him as a song and dance man. If we can get his book published it would be fantastic because it was his life. If we can finish it for him, it would be the best tribute we can make.

“In his later years it was his book that took up most of his time and being a dad and granddad.

“People I have been contacting about his death have all said what a lovely man he was. How kind and generous and unassuming he was and nobody has had a bad word to say about him.

“He was incredibly generous with his time. He was a generous-spirited person.”

A public service to remember Ken will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday, January 28, at the Clarendon Muse, in Rickmansworth Road, Watford.

The evening will be led by One Voice Watford Community Choir, which counted Ken among their members and who will perform a number of songs.