Tributes have been paid to a businessman who has been found dead on his farm following reports of a burglary.

Peter Cordwell, 48, is believed to have suffered a medical episode following the incident at Collop Gate Farm in Heywood, Rochdale, shortly before 11.15pm yesterday (Wednesday).

He was treated by paramedics but died later.

Hundreds of tributes have been to businessman Mr Cordwell, a father of three from Heywood known affectionately as 'Creamy'.

His devastated wife wrote on Facebook: "Thank you so much to every single person who has sent kind message. To say we are totally devastated is an understatement.

"He was the love of my life. We spent the last 24 year together, married for 21 years. 3 kids and an business empire later. I’ll love you for the rest of my life. You were my soul mate."

His daughter Pip posted a picture of her father and wrote: "The Man, The Myth, The Legend."

A friend told the M.E.N: "Its a great loss, he was the a true gentleman, kind and always happy to give advice. He supported local charity. And he wasn't scared to say what needed saying."

Another said: It’s so shocking and heartbreaking!! Such a lovely man with a smile on his face every time you saw him. He would do anything to help anyone and raised thousands for numerous charities over the years.

"His farm played a part in a lot of local events including his annual 1940s weekends which were spectacular, with real live tank rides. He had time for anyone and everyone. Nothing was off limits when it came to to him.

Peter Cordwell

"It’s such a tragic loss of such a big personality with an even bigger heart. He leaves a whole town shocked and heartbroken at his passing and a world just that little bit darker with a shining light extinguished but I know that his legacy will live through his family."

Hundreds of people posted their own tributes online.

Karl Taylor wrote: "RIP Peter(Creamy). A great guy pleasure to have known you. Condolences to all the family."

Mr Cordwell was a well-known figure in Heywood. He was a director of Spodden Mill Ltd in the town, according to Companies House. He was a former owner and director of PGC Demolition.

He was one of the owners of the farm on Manchester Road where he died. Police were called to reports of a burglary at one of the units on the farm.

Collop Gate Farm remained sealed off today as an investigation continued.

Crime scene investigators were pictured at the site.

Greater Manchester Police said officers were called to reports of a burglary at units of Manchester Road at around 11.15pm on Wednesday night.

Police at the farm off Manchester Road in Heywood

"Officers attended and found a man - one of the owners - had subsequently suffered what is believed to have been a medical episode," the force said in a statement.

"Despite the best efforts of paramedics, he sadly died a short time later."

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Neighbours at the scene told the Manchester Evening News Mr Cordwell, who is understood to live nearby, had been alerted and went to the farm to investigate.

GMP said the burglars fled the scene prior to officers' arrival.

No arrests have been made.

The farm was cordoned off by police

Mr Cordwell had a number of well-publicised run-ins with the authorities during his business career.

Detective Inspector Julie Maxwell, of GMP's Rochdale district, said there was evidence to suggest the burglary was 'targeted'.

She said: "I would like to start by saying that the investigation team's thoughts are with the man's loved ones and specialist officers are supporting them.

"We believe the man suffered a medical episode but enquiries are ongoing and a post-mortem investigation will confirm the cause of his death.

"Our investigation is in the early stages but we are working hard to establish the full circumstances surrounding both the death of the man and the reported burglary.

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"I would like to use this opportunity to appeal to anyone with information, regardless of the perceived significance, to contact us, or Crimestoppers - anonymously - as soon as possible.

"We understand that members of the public may be concerned by this incident.

"I would like to offer some reassurance by saying that, although we are keeping an open mind, there is evidence to suggest the burglary was targeted.

"Regardless, extra officers are in the area and will remain for the foreseeable future.

"Anyone who is concerned can speak with them."

One neighbour told the M.E.N : "We saw flashing lights and the police and this morning, we got up to find police were everywhere.

"This is a real shock to us."

Another neighbour reported that Mr Cordwell, who it is thought lived nearby, had gone to the farm after being alerted to a burglary at the farm.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 8441 quoting 3023 of 28/10/20 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.