LOYAL, lovely, quiet and gentle are some of the words used to describe John Palmer, who tragically died at the wheel of his BMW after hitting a garden wall in Cricklade on Sunday.

John, 86, of Reeds, in Cricklade, was said to be on his way to Holy Cross Church, in Ashton Keynes, when he hit a garden wall in West Mill Lane, a short distance from his home, just before 10am.

The Rev Dr Shirley Danby, a minister in Cricklade and Ashton Keynes, said she had known John for four years, as well as his wife Pat, who died two years ago after a fight with cancer.

John was said to have lived in Cricklade for more than 20 years and in more recent times had become a well-known member of the church community at St Sampson’s, in Cricklade, and Holy Cross, in Ashton Keynes.

“I would say he was a real gentleman,” the Rev Danby said.

“As I think about it, he was on his way to Ashton Keynes when the accident happened.

“He was part of a church community. He enjoyed being a part of the community. In times of difficulty people’s faith does grow.

“He was a quiet man, he was lovely, he was a gentleman.

“He had some close friends in the locality. He went to an art group in Cirencester and met some local people there.

“He wasn’t gregarious. He was quite a lovely gentleman.

“I wouldn’t say he had a large number of friends. I met him through his church connection, so my role was pastoral. I would ask him and he would say how he was. John was very loyal.”

John was found alone in his car. He was unconscious and, despite attempts from paramedics to save him, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The exact cause of the incident is not known but police are not looking for witnesses in connection with it.

The Rev Danby said John and his wife had turned to religion and the church in light of her battle with cancer.

She said she had led Pat’s funeral, almost exactly two years ago.

She also said he had formerly been in the Army, and been stationed in Iran at one time.

John’s family, who had travelled some distance, were understood to have met Wiltshire Police yesterday as the force formally identified him.

If anyone has any information surrounding the crash then they can contact PCs Chris Penny or Jay Clifton on 101.