A LONG-serving councillor who shaped his community for almost four decades will be remembered as a dedicated village man and family man..

Coun Bill Waters , from Byers Green, near Spennymoor, passed away last Thursday (March 20) at the age of 77.

The first love of his life was his family- wife Julia, whom he married in 1961, along with their children Pam, Carole, Eileen and John and four grandchildren.

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His second love was Byers Green.

In 1976 he was elected onto Spennymoor Town Council, representing the village until his death, was its leader for more than 20 years and mayor in 1981-82 and 2011-12.

In the same year he joined Sedgefield District Council- later Sedgefield Borough Council - and represented Byers Green, Middlestone Moor and Kirk Merrington until 2009, when the council was replaced with a unitary authority.

He chaired the borough council in 1989-90 and was instrumental in the transfer of its housing stock to Sedgefield Borough Homes. He was a member of County Durham Association of Local Councils for 35 years, 33 as chairman.

Coun Waters was also a steward at Byers Green Methodist Church, where he helped raise £60,000 for refurbishments, was on the village carnival committee, helped Spennymoor Town Band reform in 1982 and became its president, and was a governor at Byers Green Primary School.

Mrs Waters said: “Apart from his family, those community roles were was his life.

"Our door was open 24-7, 365 days a year. It was in his nature to help people.”

Daughter, Pam, added: “We are all very proud of dad.

“He was a village man and fought hard to keep community life going.”

Durham County Councillor Brian Stephens, a former borough council colleague, said: “Bill was an honest and straightforward councillor, he was a community champion before the phrase was invented.

“Bill Waters made a big difference, his loss is a tragedy not only for his family, friends and colleagues but for the people of Spennymoor.”

A Labour member and trade unionist, Coun Waters also had the respect of opposition members.

Independent Spennymoor Town Councillor Liz Maddison said: “We sometimes disagreed but were always friends afterwards.

“I liked him and I will miss him for his straight-talking, forthrightness and conviction, I believe he will be a big loss as a dedicated and committed councillor.”