AN artist who taught hundreds of people how to use clay and once worked for Augustus John and betting chain founder William Hill has died, aged 95.

Sid Finch ran workshops called Clay Play for decades at Sandy Balls, where he often lived.

He was a strict vegetarian, and is described as a “wonderful, friendly and colourful character”.

The holiday park says Mr Finch “was a huge part of life at Sandy Balls”, where he taught and amused many children with his funny stories “and was known and loved by many”.

His family said: “His simplistic way of life, close to nature, a strict vegetarian diet and his way of thinking were all in many ways years ahead of his time for a man of that generation.

“He will be missed by so many people and the ‘legend’ of Sid will live on in our hearts forever.”

One of Mr Finch’s projects was the Gypsy caravan he restored in the sixties, which is still on display at Sandy Balls.

By trade a master carpenter and French polisher, Mr Finch also painted pictures, made pottery and crafted true-to-life heads for people.

He did French polishing for artist Augustus John, and for William Hill, who owned the then Albany Hotel in Fordingbridge (he is said to have told Mr Finch he had won the hotel in a bet).

Mr Finch and Mary Fredericks became founder members of the Salisbury Group of Artists and he often exhibited his work with them.

He also enjoyed attending the Salisbury Art School, and posed as a model there on occasion.

Mr Finch even submitted pieces of work to the Royal Academy in London, and had a painting chosen as a winner for a long-term touring exhibition in a Southern Arts competition.

He is survived by his daughter Japh, stepchildren, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. His great-granddaughter Samantha said: “Rest in peace lovely Sid –– you were always a inspiration and your ‘Silly Billy’ stories will always make me smile.”