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Tributes paid to leading Rutland figure Air Vice-Marshal (Retd) Nigel Sudborough

Tributes have been paid to leading Rutland figure, Air Vice-Marshal (Retd) Nigel Sudborough who died suddenly, aged 72, in Uppingham at the weekend.

Mr Sudborough, from Uppingham, had a distinguished military career in the Royal Air Force, achieving the rank of Air Vice-Marshal, and served many important roles within Rutland after retirement.

Born in Northampton, he attended Oundle School, and joined the RAF at 18 as a navigator radar operator on bombers, later in the famous 617 Squadron, the Dambusters.

He became Officer Commanding at 29 Squadron, RAF Coningsby and spent a year in the Falkland Islands following the conflict for which he was awarded an OBE in 1988.

Uppingham man Nigel Sudborough continued to be prolific in his service after retirement from a 36-year career in the RAF
Uppingham man Nigel Sudborough continued to be prolific in his service after retirement from a 36-year career in the RAF

He followed two years as Station Commander at RAF Leuchars, in Scotland, with a posting at Headquarters Strike Command, RAF High Wycombe, as Air Commodore Plans, then as Deputy Chief of Staff Operations where he oversaw the logistics of conflicts in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.

He was made Companion to the Military Division of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath (CB) in 2002 as recognition of a career spanning more than 36 years.

After retirement he became director general of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust from 2002 to 2007.

The trust runs the Churchill Fellowships which helps individuals travel the world in search of solutions to the UK’s most pressing problems.

Trust chief executive, Julia Weston said: “Nigel is widely credited with modernising the operations of the organisation.

“He continued to take an interest in the Fellowship long after he left, attending events locally and nationally. He will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”

Mr Sudborough remained active in many other areas of Rutland life, serving as a magistrate from 2004 to 2018, and was a non-executive director on boards within the NHS in Leicester between 2009 and 2015.

He also served as president of the Oakham branch of the Royal British Legion, organising fundraising events, as well as services and Remembrance Day parades.

In 2018 he became one of the first deputy lord lieutenants of Rutland to be appointed by Dr Sarah Furness when she took the post of Lord Lieutenant of Rutland.

“I have been in touch with some of his fellow magistrates who, like me, remember him with great affection and respect and are saddened at his death,” said Dr Furness.

“Nigel was extremely keen on increasing understanding of our judicial system, the courts and the rule of law.

“Nigel was disappointed to have to retire from the magistracy at 70, however, undeterred by retirement, and as a member of the Magistrates Association, he continued to devote time and energy into their programme of education in the community.

“I was very pleased to have Nigel as one of my deputies and I know he will be much missed.

“I regret that the current restrictions mean Rutland cannot say goodbye in the way we would like.”

Kathy Robinson was a fellow deputy lord lieutenant. She said: “He combined being a uniformed English officer gentleman with a lovely warm spirit for everything with four legs, particularly his dog.

“It was a juxtaposition of being ceremonial on one level and warm-hearted on another. He was a good storyteller.”

Away from officialdom, Mr Sudborough was a keen fly-fisherman and philatelist, and enjoyed participating in and helping to organise battlefield tours through the Old Oundelian Society.

He leaves behind children Emma and Charles, and his beloved dog Maisie.

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