COLONEL Tim May, who was instrumental in setting up the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust and museum, has died at the age of 85.

A lifelong member of the Oxfordshire Yeomanry Association, he was described as one of the most outstanding army reserve officers of his generation.

Serving with the 299 Field Regiment from 1951 to 1967, he famously led the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (QOOH) detachment that led the gun carriage at Churchill’s state funeral.

Churchill remained Honorary Colonel of the Hussars until the time of his death in 1965. When he left detailed instructions in the safe at the Territorial Army Centre, Oxford, for his funeral, he included a special honour for the QOOH.

Just as he had sent them to Flanders in 1914 and to France in 1944, so now he singled them out to have a prominent position immediately ahead of his coffin at the state funeral, in preference to many senior and more prestigious regiments.

Colonel May died peacefully at his home in Ickford, Buckinghamshire, on December 10.

He followed his father, Colonel Wilfred May, into Oxford’s Dragon School and by the age of 13 he was already 6ft tall and excelling at rugby.

He transferred to Magdalen College School and, also like his father, became an accomplished singer and actor.

During this time he acquired a deep respect and love for the English language.

From these early days he also excelled in the military. He started in the School Joint Training Corps and went on to join the Oxford University Officer Training Corps.

National Service took Colonel May to Mons Officer School and then on to the Royal Artillery where he was posted to Egypt.

On his return he took up a career in insurance and became a senior executive at Alexander and Alexander in London.

While insurance was his day job, military life remained Colonel May’s passion.

For 14 years he was deputy commander and Colonel TA in the South East district.

He was appointed chairman of Eastern Wessex Territorial Army Association having been Command of the Oxfordshire Yeomanry Battery of 299 Field Regiment, founding Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion the Wessex Regiment and Aide-de-Camp to the Queen. He was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1988.

Colonel May became the first chairman of the Oxfordshire Yeomanry Trust created in 1997 to create a sense of pride in the serving reserve soldiers of today.

His great passion was that there should be a permanent home for the Oxfordshire Yeomanry Collection and, with help, he conceived the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust (SOFO) and its own new museum.

Although seriously ill, the Colonel lived to see the Princess Royal open the new museum at Woodstock in September 2014.

Outside of working life, Colonel May enjoyed gardening with anything that involved bonfires, chainsaws and sledgehammers, and outdoor life with his family, walking many miles while practising map reading and telling stories.

He enjoyed European travel, studying cities’ history, art and architecture. He was a great family man and is survived by his wife Ella, son Matthew, daughter Sophie and grandson Harry.

His funeral was held on Tuesday at St Nicholas Parish Church in Ickford.