Godmanchester Cambridgeshire Community Association Online

Hugh Richard Butcher


18.4.1939 – 1.6.2013

Richard was the first born of John Richard Butcher of Bognor Regis and Mary Mc Manus of Lisnaskea , Co In 1940 when his Father was posted to Egypt his Mother took him to her home in Lisnaskea where he lived with his Grandparents and attended school until he was 6 years old.

Only 3 years after his return from the war Richard’s Father died of a Brain Tumour leaving his wife with 3 young children.

Richard attended Chichester High School for Boys . He joined the ATC and in 1957 joined the Royal Air Force and served at several places in the UK and abroad notably R.A.F Hospital Ely, ( where he met Pat, his future wife) Kuala Lumpur, Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and Abingdon..

In 1966 after 9 years Richard left the RAF and joined the Metropolitan Police where he served for 3 years in Stoke Newington.

Richard developed a passion for SAAB cars and embarked on an epic journey in a 2 stroke with a friend to visit Pat who was at that time working in Kuwait. Since then he was the owner of 13 different SAABS in total over the years . His latest classic could be seen around the town and was often used as the” Mayoral car”.

In 1969 Richard was commissioned into the R.A.F and served for another 24 years as a Supply Officer rising to the rank of Squadron Leader.

Pat and Richard were married in 1971 and had 2 daughters Katherine and Helen. As a family they loved travel and Richard’s curiosity and interest in places and people have been inherited by his daughters .

In 1975-1977 Richard was seconded to the The Sultan of Omans Air force . (SOAF)He loved his time there and returned several times over the years with Veterans .

The Family settled in Godmanchester in1983 Pat worked as a Midwife whilst Richard continued to work for the R.A.F ; Ministry of Defence and finally Civil Service After his 3rd retirement he became a Godmanchester Town Councillor and served for 10 years ,two of those as Town Mayor.

He will be remembered for “doing his rounds “ in Godmanchester either in his Classic SAAB or on his bicycle with it’s number plate bearing his Police Number .

Every year he helped the Wings Collection for RAFA and worked at RAF Fairford on the Airshow .

He was the Chairman of the Godmanchester Conservative Association for many years

Richard was a Catholic who never lost his faith, he was a member of the Church Council at Buckden until it was disbanded and a regular Reader and always on hand at events erecting gazebos, car park duties etc.In 2012 Richard had a new heart valve and By-pass but sadly in 2013 a scan revealed a dissecting Aorta and he died following emergency surgery.

He will be remembered a pragmatic but gentle man, a man of principal a Family man –a great a Husband and Father . Much Loved by everyone

For us he was our Rock and our leading light

Pat, Katherine and Helen


Here we are in St Hugh’s church – how appropriate! Hugh Richard Butcher, or “Huge” as he was known to many a foreign passport officer, was my friend for more than 40 years. “Huge” actually describes Richard very well – his capacity for making friends was “huge”. His commitment to the community of Godmanchester was “huge” as was his commitment to this church. But his “hugest” commitment was to his family, all of whom looked to him for support and guidance, which was given freely and lovingly.

I first met Richard in March 1970 when, as a newly commissioned officer in the Royal Air Force, he came into my office and introduced himself as “Butch”. There were no connotations with such a name in those days but the name changed over the years from Butch to Dick to Richard; and that is how most of us here have known him.

Before I started to prepare this, I looked up the word “eulogy” in the dictionary, not because I didn’t know the meaning of the word but rather that I wanted to know if there were any nuances that I could draw reference from. The word itself is derived from the Greek eu – well and logos – a speaking and therefore means speaking well of someone. Therefore I am intending to speak well of this “huge” character.

Richard, as I said, was an officer in the RAF but he had already done other things before he was commissioned. He had served as an airman, based at various places both abroad and in the UK, notably RAF Ely where he met Pat who was a WRAF nurse and, quite a few years later was to become his wife. He had previously served in Kuala Lumpur in what was then called Malaya during the “troubles” and at RAF Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. As fate would have it, these were to be Richard’s only overseas postings. Having left the RAF as a Corporal in 1966, Richard became a Metropolitan Policeman and served in Stoke Newington. By this time, Pat had left the WRAF and was working privately in Kuwait. Richard, with his sense of adventure, decided that it would be a good idea to go to see Pat there. So he and one of his friends, Robert, who cannot be here today, drove all the way from London in a 2 stroke Saab. An epic voyage, I think you’ll all agree. Not satisfied with being a policeman, Richard applied, after 3 years, to re-join the RAF but this time as an officer and for the next 24 years he was a Supply Officer, rising to the rank of Squadron Leader.

Pat and Richard married on 1st May 1971; June and I were privileged to be present at the wedding. We have been close friends ever since. Our children have also been good friends, growing up together almost like family.

Richard had a great capacity for travel and, although the RAF did not see fit to send him on overseas postings during his time as an officer, he took every opportunity to visit his friends in the RAF who were overseas; usually within a fortnight or so of their arrival in faraway places, whether they had unpacked or not!

Travel was not his only passion – he had a passion for Saab cars, both old and new. I remember with fondness a trip we made together to the open day at Farnborough in his 2 stroke (not the one that went to Kuwait) and wondered what he was doing when we freewheeled along country roads! He had a variety of Saabs throughout his life – there is one in the garage now - perhaps he was on commission!

Like many RAF officers who have served at RAF Brampton, Richard and his family fell in love with the area and, particularly, with Godmanchester, where they bought a house in 1982. Upon retirement from the RAF in 1994, Richard was employed by the Civil Service until he finally retired in 2002.

He was never one to sit around doing nothing so, in 2003, Richard was co-opted to become a Town Councillor. As a Town Councillor, Richard could often be seen on his bicycle, rescued from Brampton waste disposal facility, riding round checking life belts, trees and waste bins – all part of his portfolio as a councillor. During his journeys round town he would often stop and chat with all and sundry. One of his sources of information was Fred the barber who very often had a completely different slant on reality. I was talking to the Town Clerk’s Assistant last week and he told me that, rather than just being another councillor or even a friend, both he and the Town Clerk regarded Richard as family.

Richard served almost exactly 10 years as a Town Councillor, 2 of which he was Mayor and during which time he put the town firmly on the civic map. He is still remembered fondly by members of “The Chain Gang” – the Mayors and Chairs, during his time in office.

Richard was a fatalist. One of his oft stated beliefs was that he was going to “live ‘till the end of his life” and he could be seen daily checking the obituaries in the Daily Telegraph to see if his name was there!

We’ll all miss Richard very much, none more so than Pat, but he knew that the rest of us will always be there to support her and he left this life peacefully in that knowledge.

I’d like to finish by giving you some of the comments that June and I have received this week from various people in Godmanchester:
• “he was always such a happy man”
• “he never pulled any punches”
• “he always wanted to chat to anyone and everyone he met”
• “I can’t imagine not seeing Richard around Godmanchester on his bicycle – the one with the car registration”
• “he was a gentle man and a gentleman”
• He was my friend and the brother I never had and I’ll miss him.


Was the weather good for travelling up?
And were the Angels smiling as they waited at the gate?
And was that worn-out body gloriously renewed?
And a wondrous child-like joy upon your weary face?
We shall meet again our Richard in a place that knows no pain,
And there we’ll wait together. ‘til Christ comes once again.

Veronica Butcher

ODE to H.R.B.

Those lines that I before have writ to sing
Thy praises, Richard friend, as here I sit,
My pen to feeble. Memories of things
Which thou didst say, didst give, thy wit,
Still fill our hearts and make us laugh out loud.
Ours was a friendship strong and full, too short.
Thy passing left the world and us in cloud,
With things undone, words still unspoken, still sought.
Thy life a gift to wife and daughters two,
A man so honest, true, yet full of cheek.
That made us smile behind our hands anew.
Why write about thee now? This is thy week.
This day should be thy century fair.
We’ll raise a glass, a memory to share.

June Welton

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