A LEADING businessman who was at the forefront of one of Southend’s biggest companies has died from a bee sting.

Shocked associates paid tributes to father of six, Luke Calcraft, who died in a freak incident, aged just 46.

Mr Calcraft worked for KeyMed, and then Olympus, for 24 years and had worked his way up from the Southend branch to president of the medical systems group of Olympus in America.

He began his career at KeyMed in Southend in sales roles, before moving to management positions of increasing responsibility.

While at KeyMed, he played a large role in investing in road safety campaigns for the residents of Southend.

It is understood Mr Calcraft, who formerly lived in Chelmsford, was allergic to insect bites and carried an EpiPen, but he could not be saved.

Peter Holmes, 62, from Shoebury, worked with Mr Calcraft between 2003 and 2012.

He said: “What has happened is a terrible tragedy. Everybody is shocked.

“I am still in touch with people I worked with and we all can’t believe what has happened. It’s hit us all hard.”

Mr Holmes worked with Mr Calcraft as a civil engineer for KeyMed’s road safety project.

As part of its corporate social responsibility, KeyMed implemented a number of road safety schemes around Southend, as well the rest of the UK and internationally.

Mr Holmes said: “He was an altruistic character. He worked hard trying to persuade various authorities to do certain things for the benefit of residents’ safety. A lot of his spare time was spent working on road safety.

“It was something he was very passionate about and gave a lot of his time to it.

“He was a very popular man and people felt good about having him around.

“I will remember him for being very good at his job. He was a decision maker, but also very diplomatic.

“He loved the company and gave so much to the business and to Southend.”

Tory councillor Ian Robertson, who was previously head of community safety at the council, has fond memories of the business leader.

He said: “It’s desperately sad. Mr Calcraft’s death is a loss to KeyMed and to the town of Southend generally.”

A spokesperson for Olympus in America said: “We are deeply saddened by the sudden and unexpected loss of our friend and colleague, Luke Calcraft, president of the Medical Systems Group at Olympus Corporation of the Americas.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Luke’s family and friends. ”

Mr Calcraft is understood to have died on Friday, August 1.