The manager of the Cotswold Wildlife Park has paid tribute to his late mother, and widow of the parks founder.

Susan Heyworth died at home on Friday December 17, aged 90, following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s.

Sue was the widow of John Heyworth, who founded the park in 1970, and mother to Reggie Heyworth, who now manages the park, having worked there since 1995.

On his mother, Reggie said: “She was a familiar face to everyone here.

“She was a huge support to my father when he opened the park, and has been ever since.

“She was always interested in everything going on at the park and even in her late 80s she would come and look around whenever she could.

“She had lived with Alzheimer’s for a number of years so it has come as a relief in some ways.”

Sue was born in Calcutta, India, on January 22 1931 where she lived until her parents retired to Swinbrook, Oxfordshire, in 1948, where she would meet John.

The couple were married in 1950 when Sue was aged 19 and John was 24 and remained together until John’s death, 62 years later, raising four children together.

Sue supported John when he first opened the wildlife park on March 27 1970, despite frequently saying she never really liked animals after a cat peed on her leg whilst sat at the dining table as a child.

With a good eye for gardens and a belief in creating a family run business for families to enjoy, Sue was instrumental in shaping the park that exists today.

In her later years she cared selflessly for her husband who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

On her lasting legacy, Reggie said: “I think she and my father felt very strongly that the park should be a really beautiful place and that it should not be anywhere that becomes too expensive or commercialised. It should always be about inclusivity.

“It also has a great following in the local area and I think that’s what meant a lot to my parents, that over the years it has stayed such a strong part of the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire identity.”