THE tributes that have been paid to North Yorkshire author Peter Walker, 80, who passed away from cancer at his Ampleforth home on April 21, were notable in the genuine affection and warmth people had for him.

Despite his international success with Heartbeat, based on his Constable series of books, he was remembered as a “gentleman” a “friend” and a family man. He had a writer’s eye for the quirky, the humorous and the under-stated.

He retired from North Yorkshire Police more than 30 years ago, but it was there he began honing his skills for writing. As a young cadet in Whitby, he started to learn how to type and his fellow police officers soon learnt of his skill began to pester the young trainee to write up their reports for them. He began typing up reports about accidents and minor local crimes and found he loved it, deciding then and there he wanted to be a writer. He began writing sketches and in 1966 came second in a police essay writing competition. He also began doing radio broadcasts for local radio. One day One day, he was summonsed to see the Chief Constable.

He hadn’t had his broadcasts approved, and panicked, thinking he was in trouble. The chief cleared his throat. “There was I, at seven o’clock in the morning, having my breakfast,” he told the young policeman. “And there was you, talking about sheep, on the radio!”

Peter quickly began to apologise, but his chief constable continued “Bl**** good show! I’m looking for an instructor in our training school. Are you up for it?”

He spent seven years as an instructor, then was promoted to inspector and put in charge of the police press office.

A talented and prolific novelist and columnist whose passion for North Yorkshire and whose skilled observations of the characters he came across during his time as a police officer in North Yorkshire were drawn with such humour and warmth that viewers and readers were able to care about them too.

He was also one of our longest-running columnists, whose insights into the wildlife, countryside and folklore demonstrated how well he knew his home county - and always provided an interesting fact to retell in the pub.

So the least we can do is raise a glass to the man who brought North Yorkshire to life for so many millions of people.