There can’t be many town councils whose ranks include a heroic George Medal-winning aviator who risked his life to save a colleague.

But Petersfield had one in Commander Allan Tarver: an incredible servant who gave his all for country, colleagues and the council.

Many people will remember Mr Tarver as a family man, accountant and long-serving councillor and committee chairman.

But before he swapped the cockpit for the council chamber the unassuming 84-year-old from The Spain was a hero of the sky and sea whose “extraordinary feat of airmanship” will never be forgotten.

Commander Tarver, who died on March 23, was carrying out a routine patrol above the Mozambique Channel in spring 1966 with Lieutenant John Stutchbury when one of his engines stopped through mechanical failure.

The Sea Vixen aircraft was already low on fuel and began to lose more before another engine cut out around 12,000ft ahead of a mid-air refuel.

Commander Tarver remained cool as the plane began to plummet but another disaster then struck when his observer’s ejector seat failed.

Tarver risked his own chances of survival by remaining in the cockpit and twice inverting the aircraft to give Stutchbury more time to manually bale out.

With the hatch cover jettisoned, the Lieutenant finally broke free only to lose consciousness with his harness possibly getting stuck in the airframe.

Tarver was thrown from the cockpit but his own parachute then failed to deploy before the plane plunged into the sea. He was given little chance of survival by a watching pilot but suffered only a knee injury.

Commander Tarver, who returned to flying after the accident, was hailed for “exhibiting the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger”.

Allan Leigh Tarver was born in Dorset in June 1938 into a family of Indian Army officers and was brought up in Baluchistan. He joined Dartmouth in 1954 and learned to fly at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in 1962.

He later became a test pilot at site in Maryland and Boscombe Down and was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air.

He trained as an accountant after taking redundancy in 1976 and started Tarver Deakin Accountancy at Antrobus House after partnering up with Anne Deakin-Hyde.

Commander Allan Leigh Tarver is survived by three children from his first marriage to Susan Wolstenholme and his three stepchildren from his second to Jennifer, nee Fletcher.