SALISBURY has lost a true pillar of the community with the sudden death of former police chief Frank Lockyer at the age of 90.

Widely admired and respected for his many years as Salisbury’s police chief superintendent, he was a dedicated public servant with an enduring love of the city and its people.

Born in 1930 in Cranborne, Dorset, the eldest child of tenant farmers, Alf and Beatrice, he undertook his National Service in the Royal Navy.

He joined Wiltshire Police as a constable, based in Salisbury, and worked his way up to become divisional commander for south Wiltshire.

He earned a reputation for integrity and courage. As a senior officer he was on the IRA ‘hit list’ in the 1970s and was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for bravery after saving the life of a hostage during an armed siege. He commanded a team of police officers from Wiltshire during the miners’ strike in 1984/5, when the Nottinghamshire NUM recognised his service by presenting him with an honorary miners’ lamp.

In 1985 he took early retirement to care for his first wife, Jean, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. They had married in 1953 and been a devoted and popular couple until her death in 1989.

Frank then threw all his energies into his other love, Salisbury. He headed up the Salisbury Cathedral Spire Appeal, which raised the then-daunting sum of £6.5m required to save the world-famous building. He was particularly proud that most of the money raised locally came almost entirely from ‘home-made jam and cakes’, rather than from large corporate donations.

It was while working for the Spire Appeal that he became reacquainted with international singing star Rosemary Squires. The couple had known each other briefly decades earlier when both were starting out on their careers.

Rosemary became Frank’s second wife when they married in the cathedral in 1991. He became her manager and spent the next 20-plus years happily touring with her and enjoying the showbiz life, mixing with such stars as Ken Dodd, Roy Castle, Acker Bilk, Vera Lynn and Roy Hudd.

When Frank’s Spire Appeal role came to an end, he continued to contribute to Salisbury’s civic life serving as clerk to the city’s Charter Trustees for several years.

Renowned as a man of great principle, once when pulled over for speeding he refused the young officer’s stammered apology and offer to ‘drive on, sir’ and accepted the ticket, as well as the speed awareness course that followed.

Frank, whose home was at Elizabeth Court, Salisbury, is survived by Rosemary and his grandson, Jack.

The police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson, said: “I am very sad to hear the news that retired police officer and former south Wiltshire Policing Commander Frank Lockyer has died.

“Frank retired in 1985 and was a good, old-fashioned officer who was well-respected by the public and his colleagues alike.

“My thoughts are with his wife and their family.”

The Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury said: “The Salisbury Spire appeal was the most extraordinary fundraising effort and the beginning of Salisbury Cathedral’s major programme of repair that continues to this day.

“Frank Lockyer was one of the heroes of the appeal: thanks to him and his colleagues the Spire still points heavenwards, symbolising Salisbury, signalling to returning locals that they are approaching home, and astounding our visitors.

“We give thanks for him and we pray for his family.”