Croydon Mayor, Jonathan Driver's body has been found in his home after he died suddenly on New Year's Eve.
Worried relatives of the Mayor, who had been complaining of feeling unwell, called police who broke down the door of his home in Bramley Hill and found him dead.
Members of Croydon Council received an email late last night letting them know that the 40-year-old history teacher passed away.
Conservative Councillor Driver had cancelled official engagements shortly before his death after feeling under the weather.
He died on the afternoon of New Year's Eve, police said yesterday.
A police spokesman said: "We were called by relatives who were concerned for the welfare of a Croydon man.
"A short time later, officers attended an address in Bramley Hill, South Croydon and, having failed to get a response from the occupant, they forced entry.
"The body of a man - believed aged in his 40s - was found inside the premises. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
"A post-mortem will be held in due course."
As well as representing the borough at hundreds of civic, ceremonial and social occasions, he promoted Croydon as London's third city.
Councillor Driver was first elected to the council in 2006, representing his home area of Waddon, where he lived for the past seven years. He was a teacher at Emanuel School in Wandsworth.
At 40 he was Croydon's youngest Mayor, but this accolade was not a first for Councillor Driver who became Mayor of next-door Lambeth a decade ago, aged just 30.
Conservative member for Selsdon and Ballards Ward, Councillor Sara Bashford said: “It is absolutely shocking to hear that Jonathan Driver has died. When I saw the news this morning I was so surprised as he was so young.
"He looked unwell at the Christmas carol service.
"It’s just awful, he was such a lovely man.”
Deputy Mayor, Councillor Robert Askey, said: “Jonathan embodied everything that is good about mayors. He was always warm and friendly and took time to speak to people. When he did speak he made people think they were the most important person there. I have lost a good friend and Croydon has lost a great mayor.”
Councillor Steve O’Connell said: “I was genuinely shocked to hear about the news about Jonathan Driver. Tragically it happened to a very young man who in my eyes was the perfect mayor.
"He was a great councillor and I was privileged to work alongside him and attend some of the many events he attended. His loss is a great tragedy.”
A former student of Emanuel School, Ben Thompson, said: "Mr Driver was a teacher who was known and respected by everyone throughout the school, not just those he taught.
"I fondly remember my lessons with him, and the warmth and humour he brought to the classroom. He really was a larger than life character and I'm sure many other former students will be shocked and saddened by the news."
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