A GERMAN teacher who championed the twinning links between his own town and Chard has died.

Michael Gehrke first visited the South Somerset town as leader of a youth twinning trip in 1973 and continued to take an active part in the friendship between Chard and Helmstedt, in Lower Saxony.

During his first visit, Herr Gehrke, who was an Social Deomcratic Party (SPD) councillor in his home town, stayed with Judith Laughton and her husband.

Judith said: "We remained firm friends with him and his wife Kerstin, and stayed them with them many times over the intervening years with our three daughters, who treated him as a favourite uncle.

"He was sadly diagnosed with a brain tumour in November 2018 and suffered ill health until his death on April 23.

"Due to Covid we were unable to visit until last week, too late to see him for the last time but we were able to attend his funeral and were privileged to be included as part of the small family group."

Herr Gehrke combined local politics with his job as a politics and English teacher at the local grammar school until his retirement and would have been an SPD councillor for 50 years later this year.

He was still working tirelessly for the party until his untimely death at 73.

He always championed the twinning association between his school and Chard and will be sadly missed.