Former Tory MP Peter Ainsworth dies aged 64

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Peter Ainsworth was known as an advocate for the environment throughout his political career (Pictures: PA)

Boris Johnson has paid tribute to former Conservative MP Peter Ainsworth who has died at the age of 64.

Mr Ainsworth’s death was announced by the Churches Conservation Trust, which he became the chairman of in 2016. The 64-year-old’s cause of death is not yet known but the Trust said in a statement that his passing was ‘sudden’. 

Tributes have since poured in for the previous shadow culture and environment secretary, calling him ‘kind and funny’. 

The Prime Minister said: ‘Sad to hear about the loss of Peter Ainsworth – a delightful colleague & passionate about his causes, especially the environment.

‘We shared a corridor & often found ourselves charging late for the division [physically voting in parliament]. He has been taken far too young. My thoughts with Claire & their family.’

Mr Ainsworth was elected as an MP for East Surrey in 1992. He was known for using his political career to advocate for the environment until he stepped down during the 2010 election

The husband and dad-of-three moved on to become the chairman of the Big Lottery Fund until 2019. 

It was while he was in this role that he became the chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust, alongside his post as chairman of the Heritage Alliance which he took up in 2018. 

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: ‘Peter was unfailingly kind, charming and a committed public servant. We will miss him greatly, and my thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.’

Mr Ainsworth used his maiden speech to the Commons to speak about the effect of the M25 on the countryside (Picture: PA)
Mr Ainsworth campaigned for rural communities and their way of life (Picture: PA)
Peter Ainsworth was elected as MP for East Surrey in 1992 and continued to serve in politics until 2010 (Picture: PA)

Tory peer Zac Goldsmith tweeted: ‘I’m so sad to hear about Peter Ainsworth. He was a committed environmentalist, going back years, and was an inspiration for me personally. 

‘But above all, he was the kind, funny and lovely man to know. All my thoughts with his family.’

Mr Ainsworth’s step sister Sarah Beeny said: ‘Such a sad time – heritage and the environment have lost such a brilliant champion and our family has lost a lovely clever funny man – RIP dear Peter xxx.’ 

Sam Gyimah, who was a minister for universities and science, said: ‘Very sad to hear of the passing of Peter Ainsworth, my predecessor as MP for East Surrey.

‘Peter was charming, witty, thoughtful and principled. A committed environmentalist, passionate about the Arts and was in politics for the right reasons. Thinking of his adorable family.’

The Churches Conservation Trust said: ‘At the Heritage Alliance, Peter chaired the organisation through the pandemic which has greatly affected many of our members, and we are grateful for the way in which he both supported the Alliance’s growth and tirelessly championed our 150+ organisations in a time of great need.

‘Peter was passionate about effecting positive change and ensuring heritage is understood as a public good. Our thoughts are with Peter’s family at this time.’

The National Lottery echoed similar feelings when it said: ‘Peter was a passionate advocate for the environment and for communities all across the UK. 

‘Our thoughts are with his family and friends.’

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