THE family of 'Mr Cockington' Rick Passmore, speaking for the first time since his death, says they have been overwhelmed by the flood of public messages of support.
Rick, the last surviving pony and trap owner in the picturesque village, died last week after a long battle with a progressive disease.
Today his two oldest carriage horses were due to be guests of honour at the memorial service in the village church, where Rick has been running his Cockington Carriage Company for more than 20 years.
His family say they have been inundated by messages of goodwill, floral tributes all around Cockington and memories of their father.
His son, Dani, said: "Dad's two oldest horses that he's had since we were kids, Brandy and Bracken, are going to be coming to the funeral.
"Dad called them his boys. They are like part of the family.
"Bracken will be led to the church, pulling dad's carriage, which will be behind the hearse. Dad's bowler hat will be in his seat on the carriage.
"Brandy has been retired for a while now, but he will be led up to the church.
"We thought it was only right they should be at the memorial service. He loved them and they loved him."
Rick, 61, was born and raised in Watcombe as one of a large family of three brothers and two sisters.
"He was a Devon boy through and through," said Dani.
Now the family are fighting to keep the Cockington Carriages running.
"It would not be right to have Cockington without the sound of horses," Rick's son said.
"We are in the middle of trying to sort it out with the Torbay Council and the Trust and everyone else down at Cockington.
"Our dad literally put blood into that place and we are trying to sort out some drivers so that it continues.
"It's very touching the response we have had since I put the first post on Facebook. The response from people has been overwhelming.
"It's lovely to know my dad touched so many people. It makes us really proud."
After joining the navy straight from school, Rick worked for British Telecom.
He was made redundant in the 1990s and used his redundancy pay-out to go into the carriage business.
"The rest is history," said Dani. "After that everything he had went into Cockington."
For many years Rick's face featured on Herald Express posters around town.
Dani said: "Once we were in town with dad and he was stood there frowning and the bus went past with the Herald Express picture of him grinning and it made us all laugh. It's just one of millions of funny memories we have of him."
Rick leaves three children, Dani, Marc and Kelly, and five grandchildren.
"The nice thing for the grandchildren is that the last memory they will have of dad was that before he was taken ill he arranged a barbecue and water fight party for them down at Cockington this summer," Dani said.