Tributes have been paid to a “determined” community figure who died just days before Christmas.

Christopher Palmer, 79, passed away on December 16 at his home in Clare Park, Amersham, after choking on food in his airways.

Mr Palmer was president of Amersham Rotary Club from 2015 to 2016 and member of a number of community groups in the town.

At an inquest into his death on Tuesday, his wife Thelma said her husband was a “determined character” but he suffered with a number of health problems, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), hypertension, asthma, white matter disease and hypercholesterolemia.

Crispin Butler, senior coroner for Bucks, ruled that Mr Palmer died as a result of an accident when he was asphyxiated by food in his airways.

In the weeks leading up to his death, Mr Palmer had been admitted to A&E four times between October and December, including for pneumonia on December 3.

Despite his ill health, Mr Butler said the former Rotarian’s death was caused by one “significant incident” where food became lodged in his airways.

Mrs Palmer – who was supported by her family - told the inquest that her husband’s asthma and COPD was “well under control”, but he had lost a lot of weight during his recent spell in hospital.

She said: “He was such a determined character, we thought he would hang on for Christmas, so his death was a surprise.”

“His speech and swallowing had become greatly more difficult.”

Mr Palmer’s colleagues at Amersham Rotary Club have paid tribute to their friend, praising him for his dedication to the community.

They said: “Whilst pursuing a long and successful career in HR Chris and his family moved to Amersham in 1988, where he gave his energy and enthusiasm for the benefit of the community.

“A keen member and sidesman of St Mary’s Church in Old Amersham, Chris also managed the town’s almshouses for a period as their chairman.

“His other interests included membership of the local Griffin Club where he became chairman and was an enthusiastic member of the Chess Valley Male Voice Choir.

“In 2008 Chris joined Amersham Rotary Club where he served as president for 2015-2016.

“Chris encouraged the development of a Rotary ‘Satellite’ group for the benefit of younger members who couldn’t commit to regular weekly meetings.

“He was granted a Paul Harris Fellowship in 2016 the highest Rotary award for service, in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the community.”

“Chris will be missed by his wife Thelma their four children and eleven grandchildren and the many friends who enjoyed his company.”