Dad dies taking down Christmas lights

Richard BatsonThe family of a former RAF man who died in a tragic ladder fall while taking down his Christmas lights have paid tribute to the fun-loving motorbike fan who was 'everybody's friend.Richard Batson

The family of a former RAF man who died in a tragic ladder fall while taking down his Christmas lights have paid tribute to the fun-loving motorbike fan who was 'everybody's friend.'

Phil Carter, who served in war-torn trouble spots during his service days and enjoyed riding his 1000cc bike around the local roads, was killed on his own doorstep while taking down festive lights at the family home in Aylsham.

The 47-year-old father of two was removing a string of icicle lights when his ladder slipped and he crashed to the ground, hitting his head on a plant pot beside the front door.

He was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and transferred to Addenbrooke's in Cambridge, but he died the following day.

His widow Julie said: 'With all the things that Phil did in the RAF and on his bike it is ironic that he was killed by a stupid accident that never should have happened.'

Three hundred people turned out to pay their respects to Mr Carter at his funeral - which saw his flag-draped coffin taken for a 'last blast' in a motorcycle and sidecar hearse.

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Collections, to be split between Help for Heroes and the East Anglian Air Ambulance, have already topped �2,200.

His daughters Emily, 19, and Sophie,15, wrote a tribute, which Sophie read at the service saying their father was a 'born entertainer' who 'filled the room with his bright personality' as well as being a hard-working, determined man who combined being down-to-earth with high spirits, which saw him 'always there to start the party, and the last to finish.'

Yorkshire-born Mr Carter spent 29 years in the RAF, joining at 17, and rising from aircraftmen to warrant officer.

His work centred around intelligence from aerial reconnaissance photographs, and saw him do detachments abroad in Turkey and Afghanistan, as well as three spells at RAF Coltishall and another at Marham in Norfolk.

On the day of his funeral at St Faiths, former RAF colleagues held similar sessions in Kabul and Kandahar.

And at the celebration of his life at the Diplomat club in the former families centre at RAF Coltishall mourners were treated to a flypast by a Tornado jet.

Mr Carter became a systems engineer for Suffolk-based private firm Thales after he retired in 2008.

It was while at Coltishall he met Julie, daughter of Albert and Jane Armiger who run the animal sanctuary at Swanton Abbot.

Recalling the day of the accident she said: 'We had enjoyed a lovely Christmas and New Year, with lots of parties. Phil loved celebrations.

'He never sat still. If he was not fiddling with his motorbike or cars, he'd be heading down the Feathers and Unicorn pubs to chat to his friends.'

The family was overwhelmed by messages of tribute from people, including youngsters in the RAF he had guided over the years, and people who just enjoyed his company.

His mother had summed it up when she said he was 'everybody's friend,' the family agreed.

An inquest into Mr Carter's death on January 2 has been opened and adjourned to be completed at a later date.