A DROITWICH businessman and popular huntsman took his own life after falling into debt and keeping it secret from his wife and family, an inquest was told.

Michael Skuse, of The Commons, Broughton Green, was found dead at a farm near Worcester on May 28.

Accountant Mr Skuse, 60, who was chairman of the Worcestershire Hunt, was found dead in his car at Groveley Coppice, Upper Doddenham Farm in Broadwas, near Worcester.

He had been chairman of the hunt for about five years and leaves his wife May and daughter Jessie.

The hearing at Stourport Coroner’s Court was told how Mr Skuse had crippling debts and had not paid the mortgage on his house for some time.

DC Jason Maiden, of West Mercia Police, said Mr Skuse had asked a friend for a loan of £75,000 earlier in the year.

The friend, who was not named, agreed to lend Mr Skuse £25,000 and promised not to tell his family.

DC Maiden said the debt had not been settled when Mr Skuse killed himself.

The officer said Mr Skuse was reported missing the previous evening after he had failed to return home for a planned family meal.

He said the family were also planning to go on holiday the following day.

Mr Skuse’s wife May, speaking at the inquest, said she later discovered the holiday had not been booked and had no idea about the financial problems.

She said: “The money had all gone but I didn’t know. He never booked the train tickets for the holiday. I have now come to realise that he had planned to take his life.”

Worcestershire coroner Geraint Williams was satisfied Mr Skuse had intended to take his own life and recorded a verdict that he killed himself.

Mr Williams said: “Mr Skuse had incurred substantial debts which he kept hidden from his family. They reached a pitch by where he went to Groveley Coppice.”

Speaking after the hearing Mrs Skuse described her husband, a father-of-three, as a “brilliant husband and a brilliant father”.

A memorial service will take place at Worcester Cathedral on Thursday, September 16.

Mrs Skuse said about 600 people are expected at the service and has asked anyone who knew her husband to attend.

Joint hunt master David Palmer paid tribute to his former colleague shortly after his death.

“I can speak on behalf of everybody at the hunt by saying we are all reeling with shock at the loss of a very good friend.

“He was the chairman of the hunt and was a very authoritative figure. He loved the countryside and he loved his hunting. He will be enormously missed by all of us here, he was a very good administrator.”

Mr Skuse worked as a chartered accountant and until recently was a partner with global accounting firm KPMG.

Since leaving KPMG, he had run his own business specialising in working as a business adviser to small and medium enterprises.