Mayor: 'A country man at heart'

PUBLISHED: 18:22 02 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:41 15 June 2010

A POLICE guard of honour paid a poignant tribute to former Special Constable Chris Tratt at a service of thanksgiving on Wednesday last week.

A POLICE guard of honour paid a poignant tribute to former Special Constable Chris Tratt at a service of thanksgiving on Wednesday last week.Councillor Tratt is the first Mayor of Honiton in recorded history to die while in office. He died suddenly at his home in Oaklea on Friday, November 7. He was 64.His widow, Jean, has bravely agreed to honour civic engagements accepted by her late husband. She will remain Mayoress of Honiton until May next year.Hundreds of mourners packed the parish church of St Paul to pay their respects to a man who will be remembered as honest, modest and passionate about Honiton.Town crier Dave Retter led Councillor Tratt's coffin into church for the noon service, conducted by team vicar the Reverend Allan Sheath, who was accompanied by the Rector of Honiton, the Reverend Sue Roberts.Don Williams' classic song You're My Best Friend was played in full before Mr Sheath opened the service by explaining the event was an occasion to give thanks for Councillor Tratt's life and to commend him to God.Mr Sheath emphasised that Councillor Tratt was "a countryman at heart".Many members of the local farming community were in the congregation.The first hymn was the traditional and fitting We Plough The Fields and Scatter.The reading was from the book of Ecclesiastes.In his sermon, Mr Sheath explained that "Chris would have hated being known as famous or being the subject of praise".He said he was "essentially a family man". "The church is full because Chris touched so many lives."Mr Sheath referred to this year's mayor-making ceremony, held at St Rita's Conference Centre, when Councillor Tratt was installed as Honiton's first citizen.He told Mrs Tratt: "You and Chris were truly a double act."Referring to the memorial fund set up in Councillor Tratt's name, Mr Sheath explained money raised would benefit the town. "Chris's name will live on, generation after generation," he said.While Honiton had lost its mayor, it was important not to forget that a family is in mourning, said Mr Sheath. Councillor Tratt's family would require "time, attention and space" to grieve."Death is real, but it does not mark the end of Chris's story," Mr Sheath told mourners, speaking of Councillor Tratt's faith in God.Long-standing family friend Ken Martin paid tribute to Councillor Tratt. He spoke of his life growing up near Honiton and how, after graduating from the Roman Catholic Primary School at Ottery St Mary, Councillor Tratt had become a prefect at the former Honiton Secondary School (now Honiton Community College).Councillor Tratt had gone on to complete an agricultural engineering apprenticeship, working for Halse of Honiton.During his decades as a Special Constable, Councillor Tratt had been awarded a Commander's Commendation for his dedication to Devon and Cornwall Constabulary.As a Freemason, he had risen to become Master of Honiton's Fortescue Lodge.Mr Martin said he would remember Councillor Tratt as a "kind, generous friend".The final hymn was Amazing Grace. A tribute, written by Councillor Tratt's young grandchildren, Ashley, Ella, Rebecca and Ethan, was read out before the town crier led the coffin out of church to the sound of Tina Turner's Simply The Best.n A private cremation will take place at a later date.

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