A FORMER Mayor of Croydon renowned for his "infectious smile" has died, aged 75.
Derek Millard, who passed away last Friday, served as a ward councillor for Purley from 1986 to 2010 and as Croydon mayor between 2007 and 2008.
The father of two had lived in Purley with his wife, Bunty, for the past 46 years, having been born in Sydenham Road, Croydon. Family, friends and former colleagues from across the borough paid tribute to the retired stockbroker.
His son, Andrew Millard, said: "From a relatively humble beginning – his father was a sales clerk and his mother a school teacher – he achieved great success in numerous ways, and with his infectious smile has been described as determined, honest, fun, honourable, supportive, eager, willing and a great man.
"He saw himself as Mr Purley, and he was."
A founder of the European Options Exchange, Mr Millard retired aged 49. He was elected to the council in 1986.
Council leader Mike Fisher said: "It's always sad to lose a former colleague, and to lose Derek in quick succession to the death of Pat Hecks [another ex-mayor] doubles the blow.
"He was an integral and well-known member of the community he served for so long.
"The thoughts of all of us are with Bunty, and her and Derek's children and grandchildren."
Croydon South MP Richard Ottaway, who was chosen as Parliamentary candidate by a selection committee chaired by Mr Millard, remembered a close friend who was "always hungry for a challenge".
Mr Ottaway said: "He wanted to play golf and so he set off and attained a very good standard. He wanted to race motorcars and so he went off and became a good amateur racer.
"It was that same spirit that saw Derek achieve a great deal for the Conservative Party – we were incredibly lucky to have him on our team."
Grandfather-of-five Mr Millard was also a member of the Purley and Woodcote Residents' Association and served as a governor at Woodcote High School in Coulsdon, where head teacher Mark Southworth, recruited to the school by an appointment panel including Mr Millard, said he had been invaluble in helping the school progress.
Tarsem Flora, chairman of Purley and Woodcote Residents' Association, described Mr Millard as "one of the best" Croydon mayors. He added: "I have lost a good neighbour. Purley has lost an extremely popular, intelligent and respected personality."
Mr Millard's funeral will take place on March 4 from 10am, at the Croydon Minster.