The former Mayor of Reigate and Banstead and deputy leader of the council, Michael Buttery, died suddenly in hospital this morning.

Councillor Buttery, 73, had represented Tadworth and Walton ward since 1998 and was a member of many council committees.

He was serving his third term as deputy leader of the council and was executive member for finance and assets.

During his term as Mayor between 2002-2003 he carried out 350 engagements which included leading the Queen’ Jubilee celebrations, visiting all the schools and many retirement homes and businesses in the borough and introducing the Mayor’s art competition for young people.

During his time as chairman of the environment committee he led the opposition to the plan to build an incinerator at Copyhold and dealt with flooding issues at Horley as well as working with other local authorities concerned with the expansion of Gatwick airport.

Councillor Mrs Joan Spiers, Leader of the Council, said: "I am extremely saddened by the news of Councillor Buttery's passing. Mike had worked for Reigate and Banstead Borough Council for many years and was highly respected for his work as a member of the Executive, and for his tireless efforts locally in Tadworth and Walton.

“Most recently he had been active in assisting the local community in Walton on the Hill in raising funds for a new multi use games area and tennis court.

"It was a privilege to work alongside someone I considered not only an excellent colleague but a close friend. Mike was a charming, determined gentleman and will be remembered by many for his valuable contributions to the Borough. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time."

Councillor Buttery, who lived in Greenways, Walton-on-the-Hill, is survived by his wife Jane and two sons.

He was educated at Trinity College Cambridge and following national service in the Royal Artillery, gained a BA in mechanical sciences. He began his career with The Metal Box Company and worked in the UK, Europe, the USA and Canada.