A MUCH-LOVED and respected Dunfermline police inspector has died aged just 34 after a short eight-month battle with oesophageal cancer.

Chris Mutter was first told that he had an acid reflux problem last summer after he was prompted to get some medical advice because of constant sickness every time he sat down to have something to eat.

But after undergoing an endoscopy in late October he was told that his health problems were much more sinister and he was diagnosed with stage three oesophageal cancer.

At first, doctors were hopeful that Chris could survive and he went through rounds of chemotherapy until they prepared for surgery in March.

But when surgeons opened him up, they realised there was nothing more they could do for him and he wouldn't survive.

The young dad died at his home in Duloch on June 29 with wife Maxine by his side, leaving behind his son, Ethan, aged three, and one-year-old daughter, Eden.

"After the news in March, it was just two-and-a-half months of heartbreak," Maxine, aged 29, told the Press.

"Ethan is only three but is very switched on so we tried our best not to break down in front of the kids.

"We talked and cried with each other every night trying to process what was going on.

"After some advice, we were told just to be straightforward and honest with the children.

"Chris wanted to stay at home, especially because of the complications of COVID, so I helped nurse him and my sister and brother-in-law moved in.

"We just wanted to keep things as normal as possible and the NHS helped us to do that."

Until his final breath, Chris was busy making plans ensuring that his family would be looked after when he was gone as well as leaving much-treasured memories for his kids.

Maxine said: "I think he was deteriorating quicker than he thought – his mind was strong but his body was weak.

"The last couple of weeks he went through hell and you could just see that he was terrified and really scared of dying.

"To see such a strong man who helped shape Fife policing going through that was heartbreaking.

"We're just glad that he is at peace now and he's not scared.

"He was such a good officer, husband, dad, and all that has been stolen."

Maxine, who is a support worker at the Victoria Hospital, met Chris 11 years ago when he was on duty outside a nightclub in Glenrothes.

The pair got married in 2014 before going on to have their son and daughter.

"We are a very tight-knit family and we both had the same values and morals that made us work so well," Maxine explained.

"We knew exactly what each other was thinking. We were just meant to be.

"He was a bit of a practical joker and he was still cracking jokes right to the end!

"He was an absolutely brilliant dad and would drive me mad when he came in from work and got them all excited when I had just got them settled!

"He was always thoughtful and just adored me to the point when it was quite embarrassing at times!

"He really was my soul mate and I will make sure Ethan and Eden never forget him."

Maxine is now set on raising awareness about oesophageal cancer in the hope that another young family might be saved from the same tragedy.

The disease is normally found in older men but the family have met others affected in the same way.

"He was fit and healthy so it was just absolute shock when we got that diagnosis," Maxine added.

"Unbelievably, a woman around the corner from us also lost her young husband 18 months ago to the same thing.

"Chris seemed to have to wait a lot longer than our older relatives for an endoscopy and you just wonder what could have happened had he had it earlier.

"Thankfully, it is not genetic, but it is something that stills worries me for my own children."

The family is raising money for the Maggie's Centre and St George's Police Children's Trust if you would like to donate: