LOSING two stalwarts of Marlow's Royal British Legion in the same year is a “very bitter blow” according to its chairman.

Brian Simmons, branch secretary for nine years, passed away on November 5, just days before he was due to take part in the Remembrance Day service.

President Jim Campbell died earlier this year too.

Shaun Murphy, Chairman of the 300 strong Marlow branch, paid a glowing tribute to his friend Brian on Wednesday, calling him his “guiding light”.

“He was a stalwart of the legion, he was a prime mover in the branch before I even joined it as standard bearer and secretary,” he said.

“His guidance to me was critical and I miss his wisdom as well and his friendship. It was a huge shock.

“He was very passionate and committed to the legion to ensure we did the best for those suffering due to their service.

“Of course he and Jim Campbell being so much wrapped up in the charitable side of the legion, losing both this year, has been a very bitter blow.

“Jim also a marvellous man and the two of them were the driving force of the legion.”

Ex-Mayor Jim died shortly after standing for re-election to Marlow Town Council in May.

He was Marlow branch legion president when he died and also an ex-chairman.

Remembering both men gave Sunday extra poignancy, Lot Cl Murphy said.

“It was the first time Brian had not turned up and it really came crashing home, we miss him terribly,” he said.

Regarding the huge turnout on Sunday, he said: “I think they'd be both have been really pleased.”

On Brian's illness, Lt Col Murphy said: “He was very stoic on it. He always gave his best even to his last.”

Despite his ill health, which he kept to himself, he insisted on giving out poppy boxes in Marlow Bottom this year.

“That is a very big man who does that when he's so unwell,” Lt Col Murphy said.

“The measure of the man was his heart was always there, he wore it on his sleeve. He was always helpful, always tried to make the best out of things.”