The mayor of Cambridge has died suddenly while on a scuba-diving holiday with his wife in South Africa.
Nigel Gawthrope, 61, collapsed on Friday after surfacing from a diving and feeling unwell. The exact cause of his death is unknown.
The city councillor was a popular local figure and had been eight months into his term of office.
Council leader Lewis Herbert said he served “with distinction and panache”.
A keen scuba diver and underwater photographer, Mr Gawthrope was on holiday at a diving resort near Durban with his wife, Jenny.
Mr Gawthrope was a prolific charity fundraiser and ran at the Cambridge University Press, Judge Business School – and latterly as a porter at Clare College, Cambridge.
He was particularly proud of his association with the Cambridge children’s charity, the Red Hen Project.
He was also a long-standing member of the Unite union and acted as a representative and delegate.
Mr Gawthrope was elected to Cambridge City Council serving King’s Hedges ward for Labour in 2012 – and again in 2016 – before taking up the mayoral role in May.
Mr Herbert, leader of the city’s 26 Labour councillors, said: “Our thoughts and feelings are with his wife Jenny so far away, and with Nigel’s family and close friends at this truly horrible period.
“As a councillor and mayor of Cambridge, Nigel served with distinction and panache.”
He added: “Nigel was a one-off. He was a exhaustively engaging individual who will be hard to replace.”
East of England MEP Alex Mayer said Mr Gawthrope was a “committed ward councillor … who always greeted you with a smile” and described the news as “deeply, profoundly sad”.
Labour councillor Kevin Price said he and Mr Gawthrope “shared a history of trades union activism within the publishing industry”.
“He loved representing the ward where he grew up, ” he added, “and many residents in the ward will share our deep shock and sadness at his untimely death.”