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Mr Butterfly has died

A gallant man, a conservationist and a Second World War hero has died.

George York is one of the many Brits who helped to keep the torch of a free and tolerant civilisation burning during the darkest days of the 20th century. The Hampshire Chronicle reported in 2014 -

OVER 70 years since George Yorke made ‘the worst journey in the world’ he has received a second medal in two years for his actions.

The 91-year-old was aboard HMS Cumberland during the arctic convoys of the Second World War, from 1941 to 1945, as the Royal Navy escorted vital supply ships to Soviet Russia.

Last year he was commended with the Arctic Star, and now the Russian Embassy has praised his efforts, awarding him with one of 48 Ushakov medals which are only given to living veterans. Sitting in his office, in the house he has lived in for over 60 years in Shawford, he said he was proud to wear the medal pinned to his jacket.

“I’m very proud that it has been recognised,” he said, “it’s all so long ago of course.”

Ever modest, Mr Yorke doted on his wife of ten years, Josephine, who collected the medal at a special service in London.

“I’m too immobile to collect it myself,” he said.

“It was rather nice to be remembered. Everyone in England now lives a pleasanter life thanks to those people who faced very icy conditions, fought in the wars and went through that.

“The memories are imprinted on my brain very vividly. I can remember a great deal of detail.”

Across the county the veteran is fondly known as Mr Butterfly for his work in conservation.

As chairman of the Hampshire branch of Butterfly Conservation he was responsible for transforming Magdalen Hill Down into a permanent sanctuary.

He fell in love with the creatures as a child, and says it is a passion which will never fade – he even wore a butterfly print tie.

Ave atque Vale.