Former Royal Navy serviceman from Clevedon found dead

PUBLISHED: 06:16 22 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:17 22 February 2017

Commander Chris Smith died on January 19.

Commander Chris Smith died on January 19.

Archant

A ‘true gentleman’ who served in the Royal Navy for almost 20 years has died suddenly at the age of 47.

Commander Chris Smith's inquest is due to open at Avon Coroner's Court today (Wednesday).Commander Chris Smith's inquest is due to open at Avon Coroner's Court today (Wednesday).

Commander Chris Smith lived in Clevedon with his wife Sarah but died unexpectedly in Bristol.

He was ‘devoted’ to his two children and two stepsons, she said, and was a ‘loyal husband to her’.

His funeral took place on Monday and an inquest into his death is due to open today (Wednesday) where experts will begin to determine how he died.

Mrs Smith has this week led the tributes to her husband.

She said: “We enjoyed three memorable years in Virginia and travelled widely. Chris was an avid yachtsman and recently restored his beloved yacht, Capricorno, on the Isle of Wight. In 2015 he sailed from Rio to South Africa as part of Exercise Transglobe, a major sail training event.

“Chris was a loving son to Anthea and John, brother to Claire, Tracey, Laura and Penny.

“He was a loyal husband to me and devoted father to Shaun, Celia and stepsons Tom and Kieran.”

Chris, who was born in Aylesbury and grew up on the Isle of Wight, joined the Royal Navy in September 1997 as a Weapon Engineer Officer.

He worked on several warships and was selected to head up the Weapons Engineering Department in 2007 and was deployed to the Gulf.

He would go on to embark on a three-year overseas tour in America, where his family joined him, before returning to the UK and working at the Ministry of Defence’s base in Abbey Wood in Bristol.

However, he died on January 19 and the Royal Navy said its ‘thoughts and prayers are with Chris’ family at this distressing time’.

Colleagues who he worked with at Abbey Wood have paid their respects.

Civil servant Ian Whitaker said: “He was always a person who could make anyone smile and be concerned for those around him.

“He was a true friend who will always be missed and never forgotten.”

Others said his friendly, good-humoured approach made him liked by everyone.

Wing Commander Ian Blake of the Royal Air Force said: “Respected by all, Cdr Smith had that ability to talk to anyone and everyone and was always able to make others laugh, whatever the circumstance.

“Good humoured and approachable, he was a true gentleman and my heartfelt condolences go to his family at this difficult time.”


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