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Tributes paid to former New Romney councillor Clifford Butler found dead after police search

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

Tributes have been paid to a "passionate" former councillor who was found dead following an extensive search by emergency services.

Clifford Butler, who used to sit on New Romney town council, first went missing from his home in the town on Tuesday morning last week.

Patrols, including RNLI and Coastguard teams, were deployed for two days in a row in a bid to find the 72-year-old following a police appeal.

Former New Romney town councillor Clifford Butler
Former New Romney town councillor Clifford Butler

But officers confirmed on Thursday night that the search was called off, after a body had been found in Ashford.

A police spokesman said last week: "Police were called to a premises in Simone Weil Avenue, Ashford, at around 1.35pm on Thursday, January 10 following the discovery of a man’s body.

"The death is not being treated as suspicious."

Kent coroners have since confirmed that his death has been reported to them.

In a statement, the Right Worshipful the Mayor of New Romney Councillor Peter Coe, paid tribute to Mr Butler saying: "Clifford Butler was a valued member of New Romney town council who always had the best interests of local residents at heart and a special passion for working towards improving local healthcare for all.

"He will be very sadly missed.

"Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family at this very sad time."

Clifford Butler
Clifford Butler

Littlestone RNLI Lifeboat Station posted on their Facebook page during the operation, confirming that they carried out a water line search while the coastguard, police and Kent Search and Rescue used the station as the control centre.

The Folkestone and Dungeness coastguard teams were also involved, alongside Rye Bay coastguard teams and the National Police Air Service (NPAS).

Mr Butler, of Greatstone, was a retired Royal Navy submariner. He joined the town council in September 2015 to help the campaign for better health care provisions on the Marsh.

He made several headlines that year highlighting healthcare strains and difficulties in patients getting appointments with GPs.

In 2016, he addressed falling ambulance response times on the Marsh, following a Freedom of Information request he made.

His work with the council came after he himself had to wait for an hour for an ambulance after suffering an arterial bleed to his right hand.

He had been cut by sharp steel banding while handling a packing case in May 2014 in an accident at home.

He was on warfarin, a blood-thinning medication, and had to keep the gaping wound closed while he waited.

During his time on the council, he said that an ambulance station was needed on Romney Marsh and upgrades were needed to existing clinical facilities, including the creation of a minor injuries unit as a long-term aim.

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