JOE WALCOTT, who has died aged 92, was a popular figure across West Oxfordshire who served a community and a country with equal distinction.

The long-serving councillor was born in Jamaica and first came to the UK when he joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a teenager.

After more than 30 years in the air force he joined the civil service and devoted many years to community work.

He spent 18 years as a town and district councillor, which included terms as mayor of Carterton and chairman of West Oxfordshire District Council.

He was born Windell Walcott in 1926.

He was hugely proud of his roots and joined the RAF after seeing a ‘your country needs you’ sign, believing Jamaica’s place in the Commonwealth meant he had a responsibility to play his part.

Mr Walcott later revealed he did not tell his parents about joining the air force until after arriving in the UK in 1945.

He joined as an airman and completed tours of duty in Cyprus, Malta, Germany and Singapore before rising to become a warrant officer.

In 1953, he returned to Jamaica while on holiday from the air force, where a cricket match would change his life.

There, he met his future wife Loretta and they married six weeks later.

The couple settled down in Carterton, near RAF Brize Norton, and would spend the majority of their lives in West Oxfordshire.

His air force promotion saw him work as an air quartermaster supplying military bases and he finished his service at Brize, before retiring in 1979 to join the civil service.

The couple had already become mainstays in Carterton and devoted many years to serving the town and the district.

However, Mr Walcott always said he was most proud of his family and their achievements.

He and his wife had five children and ten grandchildren, one of whom is Everton and England striker Theo Walcott.

The pair were known to be close, with the footballer calling his grandad the ‘heart and soul’ of the family in a Twitter post on Sunday.

After retiring, Mr Walcott dedicated his time to serving the community and was first elected to both Carterton Town Council and West Oxfordshire District Council in 1995.

He hoped the role could enable him to make a difference and threw himself into his community work.

During his time in Carterton, Mr Walcott served as a primary school governor and on the committee of the Neighbourhood and Advice Centre.

His popularity, selflessness and good nature helped him become mayor of Carterton in 2000, a position he held for two years.

After leaving the role in 2002, he spent four years as chairman of the district council, with Loretta elected as a town councillor during this time.

Mr Walcott transcended political divisions and was loved by staff and councillors alike, with many paying tribute to a man described as a ‘real gentleman’ and a ‘shining example’.

In 2006, he won an MBE for his services to the community and was presented with the award by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.

This did not distract him from his work in the community, despite entering his 80s.

Mr Walcott and his wife eventually stepped down from their positions on the town council in 2013, aged 86 and 79 respectively.

After almost three decades of public service between them, the popular councillors decided it was time to focus on the family.

They planned to spend their retirement visiting their family and going on holiday.

Mr Walcott died on Saturday, November 24.

His funeral will be held at St Josephs R C Church, Carterton, on Thursday, December 6 at 11am.