Published: 10:16, 09 April 2019
| Updated: 10:32, 09 April 2019
A Royal British Legion (RBL) stalwart who dedicated his life to serving others has died at the age of 59.
Neil Beaven, the chairman of the Tenterden branch of the (RBL), lost his life after a battle with cancer.
Mr Beaven began his career in the Merchant Navy, where he became a second officer and ship's navigator, later joining the Ministry of Defence police, a job that took him all over the United Kingdom, including to Scotland where he was involved in escorting nuclear submarines on the Clyde.
He joined Kent Police in the early 1990s and was based at the force's Maidstone headquarters, before becoming the sergeant in charge at Cranbrook police station.
Mr Beaven bravely fought bowel cancer twice and was given the all clear five years ago before the disease returned. He died at the William Harvey Hospital, Ashford on March 18.
Married to Ann for 33 years, the couple had one son, Matthew, 31. His widow said: "Neil had a huge sense of duty and wanted to be of service to the community."
He was outwardly reserved but it hid a real determination inside, said Mrs Beaven.
"Neil always knew what to do in a crisis and gave you a sense of being safe," she added, while praising his encyclopedic general knowledge and quick mind.
Ann said her husband had been involved in ensuring that the war memorials in Woodchurch, Smallhythe and Tenterden were maintained to a high standard.
Mr Beaven also successfully campaigned to have the family names of Tenterden's fallen soldiers used as street names in the Tent 1 housing development and he instigated the laying of commemorative bricks bearing the names of Tenterden RBL members at Tenterden's war memorial.
His widow said: "Neil just wanted to make Tenterden the best place it could be."
The funeral of Neil Beaven will be held on Monday, April 15 at 2pm at St Mildred's Church, Tenterden. Everyone is welcome and refreshments will follow the service. Family flowers only and donations for Cancer Research UK can be made through funeral directors Fuggles, 20 Ashford Rd, Tenterden TN30 6QU, or contributions can be made at the service.
More by this authorRachael Woods