TRIBUTES have been paid to well-known antiques dealer who "brought the Americans" into Leek.
Mark and Justine Simpson, of Compton, Leek, who were good friends with Roger Haynes for more than 20 years, have spoken of their fondness for him after he passed away aged 72 on May 2, following a long period of ill health.
His funeral will take place at All Saints Church in Southbank Street, Leek, on Saturday, May 17, at 4pm.
Mr Simpson said: "He had suffered for a few years with ill health, but he battled on and continued to support local traders in Leek by attending the antiques market on Saturdays.
"He was always looking out for other people and he had some very good and loyal friends in the town, especially in the trade.
"He always traded with and supported local people, especially for his restorations, right until the end.
"He was devoted to his antiques and once said to me that he wanted to die selling his last antique.
"Unfortunately his illness debilitated him too much and he couldn't continue as much as he wanted to.
"He employed 16 people at one point and was one of the biggest dealers in pine."
Roger came to Leek around 25 years ago having semi-retired from running a tailor's shop in Wolverhampton.
He had a shop on Compton and a warehouse in Shoobridge Street.
He mainly traded antiques internationally with his American friends when the pine industry in the town was booming, and he has been credited as being one of the people who brought the Americans into the town.
Mr Simpson added: "The Americans started coming to see him and then other businesses in the town benefited because they used the local hotels, restaurants and shops while they were here.
"Whenever he changed his shop window display someone from America would call him and buy the whole display, just because they knew whatever it was it would be good.
"When they came over he would close the shop and pull down blinds saying 'Buyer in Attendance'.
"America was a big part of his life; he travelled all over and had a lot of friends there.
"We've had dozens of emails from his American friends expressing their sadness at his death; one in particular said 'England will never be the same'."
Mark and Justine met Roger in 1990 when they had a flower shop in Endon.
Mr Simpson said: "He would pull up in his red Morgan and buy lilies for his house and our relationship grew from there.
"We moved to Leek and bought our house in Compton opposite Roger's antiques shop and I'd sit with him at night and we formed a strong friendship.
"We set up our own antiques shop Simpson's in St Edward Street, which we ran for a number of years.
"He inspired me and a lot of other people in the trade; he had a certain style which was his own and many people were inspired by him.
"He would see something that most people would walk straight past and ignore and he'd turn it into something marvellous.
"He was a designer and artist as well as an antiques dealer."
Roger's other interests included playing whist and he volunteered as a cook at Norton House for a number of years as a committee member.
His main home was in Wales and he stayed there at weekends, staying in Leek in the week when he was working.
Mr Simpson said: "He was massively community spirited and he was a real gentleman."
Roger leaves behind his niece Cherry and his great-niece Emma Bond.
Inquiries about his funeral should be made to funeral directors S Sigley and Sons on 01538 382048.