A SENSE of bewildering loss, for family members and community alike, prevailed at the funeral of former Ledbury postman Les Mitton.

More than 150 people attended the funeral of a man who was described, in a funeral eulogy, as “a cornerstone of society”.

Delivering the eulogy, his friend, Martin Burton MBE said: “A few months ago, he was walking about in Ledbury in the same way he did for so many years. He was one of the best-known people in Ledbury.

“Les was a great and lovely man who lived respected and died regretted.”

Mr Mitton, who was 84, died on August 1; but his funeral at St Michael and All Angels Church only took place on Tuesday because his family questioned the circumstances of his death at Hereford County Hospital.

As we reported last week, Mr Mitton died shortly after his loved ones, including his wife Doris, asked for him to be taken off the controversial Liverpool Pathway for end of life care.

His family say they had not been made aware he had been put on the Pathway, which restricts food and drink for some sedated patients.

But the family’s claim has been denied by the Wye Valley NHS Trust.

His wife, Doris, now 91, is one of Ledbury’s most respected fund-raisers a stalwart at the Red Cross Shop in New Street.

It was such charitable work which led to an invitation from the Queen to attend a Buckingham Palace garden party; and the funeral programme contained an image of Mr Mitton in top hat and tails.

Leading the service, team ministry vicar the Reverend Howard Mayell said: “He was such a lovely, gentle person and, for that reason alone, he will be greatly missed because we live in a world where so many are not gentle.

“I think that is something that, as a community, we are going to miss.”

Mr Mitton was Ledbury’s postman for more than three decades and he coverend a large area including Ledbury, Bosbury, Putley, Trumpet and Fromes Hill.

Mr Mitton liked to tell friends that he loaded one mail sack on the train that was involved in the Great Train Robbery in 1963.

Mr Mayell, during his address, said he wanted to hear more, and he looked forward to asking Mr Mitton about it in the next life. He said: “Our lives are diminished by not having Les with us.

“With a patience, and a compassion and an understanding which was brilliant – no matter what he faced, he would not let anything overcome him.

“He deserves not to be forgotten.”