A Falmouth man has spoken about his friendship with the recently deceased former US president George HW Bush.

Peter J Griffiths, former president of Falmouth Rotary Club, called his old friend a "renaissance man" and a "true gentleman".

The two met when Peter was working as a Beijing correspondent between 1975 and 1977 and president Bush was the chief of the US Liaison Office in Beijing.

He said: "He was a very impressive man. He was very very strong on foreign affairs, he went out of his way to learn Mandarin.

"He really lived through exciting times. He had really done it all, he was a Renaissance man. I wonder whether we will ever see another US president of his calibre."

Peter went on to say: "He and wife Barbara cycled around the city and were great entertainers. He took Mandarin lessons seriously. Sons George junior and Jeb as well as Gerald Ford visited during my time there.

"George was kind enough to mention me a few times in his autobiography. Apart from being a true gentleman, he was a keen tennis player."

Falmouth Packet:

George HW Bush playing tennis at the Beijing International Club

Peter mentioned that George Sr. was "very competitive," and that he took their tennis matches very seriously.

He said: "He spotted me at a Palais Des Nations press conference in Geneva and I was surprised when two secret service men arrived unannounced at my office and said the president wanted a private meeting.

"We discussed old friends, events in China, tennis and his spaniel 'C Fred'. What appears to be a gesture of friendship [in the photograph] was actually him counting the times he hammered me on the tennis court."

President George Herbert Walker Bush died on Friday, November 30, at the age of 94.

His funeral takes place at Washington National Cathedral later today (4pm GMT), before burial alongside his wife Barbara in Texas.

He served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993.