AN eccentric Winchester resident famous for burping has attracted more than 2,000 "friends" on an Internet site in the months since he died.

Ron "The Burping Man" Purse, pictured, has collected the friends on social networking site Facebook after a special page to celebrate his life, called the "Burping Ron Appreciation Society", was set up on the site last November.

Since then 2,084 Facebook members have joined the society with people logging on from across the world.

A second tribute page, called RIP Burping Ron, has also been set up. It has over 250 members.

Mr Purse, who died aged 71, was well-known in Winchester for his many eccentricities which included a habit of burping while he was speaking to people and for wheeling a pram around the city in which he would keep everything from old clothes to cabbages.

Friends described how he would always greet them in his trademark squeaky voice, normally accompanied by his catchphrase soon be Christmas', while handing out presents he had found on the street.

Many of those listed on his page met Mr Purse, who lived in Highcliffe, while at university in the city however tributes on his page have come from as far afield as the USA and Australia. So well known was "Burping Ron", that at this year's Hat Festival, the organisers even staged a special pram race to remember him.

A portrait of him done 25 years ago by well known artist Trevor Percy-Lancaster, who was tragically killed in Canada by a bear in 1992, has also been donated to Winchester City Council by his family and will go on display next year.

Mr Purse even managed to cause a stir in the city in June this year, six-months after his funeral, when the new resident at his former home in Fivefields Road called police saying she had found a WWII bomb in her garden.

The unexploded device had been discovered in a pile of detritus in his back garden and was later taken to the nearby King George V playing fields in Bar End where Army bomb disposal experts blew it up in a controlled explosion.