'Our hero and best friend': Tributes to award-winning volunteer

Michael Mather

Michael Mather during a family holiday - Credit: Mather family

Tributes have been paid to a man who helped to build a Barkingside school and won a Queen's Award for voluntary care work.

Michael Mather's children, Sarah and James, called him "their hero and best friend" after his death.

Michael, who lived in Clayhall for most of his life, assisted in the construction of Clore Tikva School and volunteered as a teacher there.

He was born in Hackney to Rachel and George Mather on November 26 1934.

From the age of 18, he completed more than two years of national service in the Royal Air Force.

He also earned a masters in law at Queen Mary University of London.

Michael then spent more than 20 years as a senior lecturer at higher education institutions across the capital.

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He went on to receive a masters in manpower studies at the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and an advanced diploma in education.

Michael was a keen sportsman and enjoyed playing football, which included a stint for Tottenham Hotspur's reserves when he was 18.

He also represented Wanstead Squash Club as a coach and player, and even boxed with the Kray twins and sparred with Henry Cooper.

Michael featured in the Recorder in 2012 when the then 77-year-old fought off two teenagers who tried to break in to his home

Once retired from semi-professional football, he became a Football Association coach and referee.

He won the London Football Association Award for services to refereeing in 2010.

In the same year he received his Queen's Award, which is equivalent to an MBE.

Michael, who was 87 when he died, is survived by Sarah and James.

They said: “We will carry the memory of our devoted father in our hearts forever.

“Our dad is our hero and best friend. His great qualities and values will live on through everything we do.

"As we said to him in his last moments: 'Dad, we love you so much and we’re so proud of you. We will work the rest of our lives to make you proud of us.'”