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Ex-editor dies suddenly after triple heart attack on French bus

Mike BennettAn editor who served an independent publisher for almost half a century has died suddenly aged 79.

Tributes have been paid to Mike Bennett, formerly of the KM Group, who suffered a triple heart attack while getting off a bus in France.

Mike, pictured, spent 48 years at the KM, starting as a trainee reporter and going on to hold every role on the newsdesk and sportsdesk.

He later returned to his reporting roots as chief reporter on the Ashford edition of the Kentish Express before leaving journalism in 2009.

Mike was subsequently elected as a Conservative member of Ashford Borough Council, a role he held for eight years before losing his seat.

Council leader Gerry Clarkson told Kent Online: “I was very fond of Mike.

“He was a long-serving person publicly in terms of his work at the Kentish Express and as a councillor at Ashford Borough Council.

“I worked with Mike as a colleague and he was an absolute gentleman who was always thoughtful and caring. He will be sadly missed.

“We valued him highly. He still remained part of a number of things at Ashford Borough Council.”

Mike remained a trustee of the mayor’s charitable trust and was a founding member of the twinning association who, according to Cllr Clarkson, had “always supported this and he had a great love for France”.

He was gettin off a bus at Ashford’s twin town of Fougeres, a collaboration Mike had set up, on Saturday when he suffered the heart attack.

The visit was part of a annual civic exchange.

Cllr Matthew Forest, a fellow Tory, was with him on the trip.

He said: “When he was a councillor he continued that work in his role in the culture department.

“We referred to him as the grandfather of twinning.

From the UK side, Mike was the driving force, and continued to be right up until the very day we arrived in Fougeres last Thursday on an official visit with us.

“Mike is a huge loss for us. He leaves behind a huge void because his knowledge and history of events that led us here today is unsurpassed.

“He carried a lot of that in his head. Thankfully he had written a number of books so he has left a great legacy for us to look through.

“We are so desperately sad and will do all we can to continue his work in his memory.”