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Family pays tribute to former councillor Mike Alston who has died aged 95

A former councillor who was honoured for brave service with the Royal Navy in the Second World War has died at the age of 95.

Michael Alston passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, on Tuesday, January 7.

Born in Loughton, Essex, in 1924 to parents Margaret and John, Mike had one sister, Diana.

He went to Felsted School in Essex, and in 1942 joined the Royal Navy aged 18.

Mike’s second wife Erika said he had developed a great interest in the Senior Service and ‘joined as soon as he was old enough’.

He first served in HMS Middleton, an Arctic destroyer which escorted merchant vessels carrying supplies to just beyond the Arc-tic Circle on three convoys.

After gaining his commission in 1943, he served in fleet minesweepers in the Mediterranean until 1946, rising to the rank of sub-lieutenant.

After the navy he was a junior civil engineer for Costain Ltd, building dams in Loch Alsh between the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides and the North-west Highlands of Scotland.

In 1948 he joined the Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) Paints division in Slough, handling their export markets in West Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the USA.

That year he became engaged to his first wife Pamela. They married in Loughton in 1950 and moved to Burnham in 1952.

Madeleine [now Bonar], the first of their four children, was born in 1954, followed by Philippa [now Hughes] in 1956, Graham in 1958 and David in 1960.

All attended school in Maidenhead – Madeleine and Philippa at Newlands and Graham and David at Desborough.

“He always had time for us,” said Graham. “He gave us a lot, he taught us a lot, manners, good grace.

“He loved family reunions, he loved watching our careers, watching our families develop and grow.”

In 1966 the family moved to White Waltham and in 1971 to the Belmont area of Maidenhead, where Mike lived for the rest of his life.

In 1974 Mike and Pamela divorced but remained on good terms until her death in 2009. He met his second wife Erika in her native New York and they married in 1975, at Maidenhead Town Hall.

Erika said: “He was gentle and he was a gentleman, an educated, intelligent man.”

In 1975, Mike became a Royal Borough Conservative councillor for Belmont.

Interested in works and planning, he was closely involved with the introduction of wheelie bins and the development of several car parks in the town centre.

Alston Gardens, off The Crescent, in Maidenhead, is named after him.

After Mike retired from ICI in 1983, he worked part-time as membership adviser to the Thames-Chiltern Chamber of Commerce and Industry until 1991.

Also in 1991 he also stopped being a councillor to concentrate on completing his life’s work ‘Destroyer and Preserver – the story of HMS Middleton & her ship’s company’, which was published in 1993.

Mike was the secretary and a founding member of the HMS Middleton L74

Association, established in 1985.

Towards the end of the Nineties, Mike campaigned for an Arctic Star medal to be issued by Britain and, in 2013, he was one of 40 veterans to be awarded the medal at Downing Street.

Other medals Mike earned for his service included the Russian Arctic Star, the Russian Ushakov Medal for bravery and the French Legion D’Honneur for bravery which, said Erika, ‘he received with great pride’.

“He was very proud of his time in the navy, as are all old sailors,” she said.

“They seem to treasure their World War Two experience which they look back on with great affection.”

As well as a father, Mike was a stepfather to Pamela Cavar and Deborah Brighton, grandfather to David’s children Sara Alston and Katie McElligott, Graham’s children, Callum Alston, Abbie and Eloise, and step-grandfather to Pamela’s son, Ben.

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