Memorial lunch and flypast for former RAF pilot

  Posted: 03.09.20 at 15:57 by Francesca Evans

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A church service and lunch was held last weekend in memory of former RAF Flight Lieutenant and Axminster resident Rupert Butler, who sadly died following cardiac arrest on his 80th birthday in May.

Following the easing of some coronavirus restrictions, the memorial requiem service was held at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Axminster followed by a lunch hosted by Diamond’s Tearoom in Cooks Lane, where guests enjoyed a flypast by two Chipmunks, one of Rupert’s favourite aircraft which he trained others in during his RAF career.

The tearoom provided ample outdoor space for guests to remain socially-distanced, as well as sprawling views over Axminster and the surrounding countryside, including a glimpse of Rupert’s beloved Red House in Cuthays Lane, described in his eulogy as his “final masterpiece”, and where he lived for several years with wife Jeny before downsizing to Hilary Close.

Rupert was born on May 16 1940 in New Zealand, where his parents Guy and Paddyanne had moved to escape uncertainties of the time.

But as the Second World War become more of a reality, they sailed back to join the war effort - Paddyanne became an ambulance driver in England while Guy stopped in Canada and joined the airforce, later rejoining his wife at home.

Rupert was educated at Spyway Primary School in Dorset, Tunbridge in Kent and eventually Quintin School in London, later gaining an RAF scholarship.

Friends and family gathered at Diamond's Tearoom in Cooks Lane for the memorial lunch

He started his career with the RAF in 1958, flying Phantoms, Vulcans, Meteors and Chipmunks and eventually becoming Flight Lieutenant before taking over his mum’s business in London.

After moving to Axminster with Jeny and their four sons, he became involved in community life, largely through his political campaigning for the Conservative Party, for which he served as constituency chairman for Honiton and Tiverton.

He was also a governor at Axminster Community Primary School and chairman of governors at Musbury Primary School, overseeing the latter’s federation with other local schools to ensure its sustainable future.

Along with family and friends, Rupert’s memorial lunch was attended by many well known members of the Axminster community, including district and county councillors Andrew Moulding and Ian Hall, and MP Neil Parish.

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