HAMPSHIRE’S closely knit Scouting community is mourning the death of one of its most respected and longest-serving leaders.

For more than 40 years Lee Budd was a leader with the 13th Southampton (Millbrook) Sea Scouts.

He also played a major role in Sea Scouting across Hampshire. He was Assistant District Commissioner (activities) and in 2008 was awarded the Silver Wolf – one of Scouting’s highest accolades.

Countless tributes have poured in for Southampton-born Lee, who has died suddenly aged 63.

A message on the Hampshire Scouting website reads: “Lee made a real difference to the lives of thousands of young people through Scouting and he will be greatly missed.”

St Peter’s Church at Maybush, Southampton, was packed for his funeral last week as Scouts from all corners of the county paid their last respects, which included a guard of honour.

Lee’s Scouting career spanned 55 years and began with the former 18th Southampton Scout Group at Maybush.

His widow Sue said: “He joined the Cubs when he was eight and he never left Scouting. It was always close to his heart. It was his life.

“In fact they used to say that his work was in his spare time and Scouting was the rest of his time.”

A wall in the lounge of the family’s Maybush home is covered with cards of condolences, including many from former Scouts who had been in Lee’s group. One described him as a legend for the help he had given him.

Sue said she was overwhelmed with the tributes that had flooded in since news of Lee’s death. She added: “It has been very touching and people have written lots of nice things in the cards.”

One Scouting official described Lee as a fine Scout leader and one of the very best who would go a mile out of his way to help when it was needed.

Right to the end Lee always wanted to help people and Sue said her husband had donated some of his organs.

She said: “He always had a donor card and he still wanted to help people.”

Lee was a team leader with BAE Systems Maritime and had worked with the company which was also known as Vosper Thorneycroft for 40 years.

He was awarded the MBE for his services to the shipbuilding industry.

He also leaves three children and three grandchildren.