An 85-year-old man found dead in his home last week was a have-a-go-hero who tackled an armed robber outside a local jewellers last year.
RAF veteran William Grove – who was known by his middle name, John – was given a police commendation award for his part in foiling the raid on Ernest Jones, in George Street, Richmond, in October.
He was hailed a hero after pulling the balaclava off a teenager who was trying to smash the shop's window with a sledge hammer, in front a crowd of 50 stunned onlookers.
He went on to identify the 17-year-old, who was found guilty of burglary and sentenced to 18 months in a young offenders' institute, and his 16-year-old accomplice, who was given a six month detention and training order.
Mr Grove was found after neighbours noticed milk bottles stacking up outside his Queens Road flat since Monday. His milkman contacted police on July 17
A keen church-goer, Mr Grove took his new medal to show friends at St Matthias Church the Sunday before he died. Vicar Cate Irvine, said he was a popular and active member of the church.
"He married his late wife Joan, who died three years ago, here, and he was a regular face at church events," she said.
"He was one of those people who was always around and always took time out to welcome new people. He played a key part in the clock winders rota and kept very active, often popping in to our coffee bar to have a chat.
"I was knowledgeable and interested in a lot of things, including war stories. I remember recently he travelled into London to see a tank parade."
Mr Grove's funeral is expected to take place at St Matthias, but no arrangements have yet been made.
"I think people who knew him are taking comfort from the fact that he went suddenly – there was no illness and he remained active until the day he died, as we understand it going peacefully in his sleep," added Rev Irvine.