A FARMER who dedicated 46 years to serving his community has spoken of his delight at being granted a rare honour. 

Geoff Ellis, who stood down from Hambleton District Council in May 32 years after being elected as member of Easingwold, said becoming the authority’s 22nd honorary alderman in the authority’s 45-year history was a “tremendous honour”.

Mr Ellis was a member of the authority’s planning committee for 29 years and served as the committee’s chairman for a decade.

He said: “Being an honorary alderman denotes being a high ranking member of a council, but I have never considered myself a high ranking member of Hambleton District Council.”

Nominees for the honour must have served at least five consecutive full terms or a minimum of 20 years; or served at least four consecutive full terms and served as chairman of at least two committees or been a member of the Cabinet during that period.

The honour will mean Mr Ellis is invited to various civic functions.

The Independent turned Conservative councillor, who joined Easingwold Town Council in 1973, said the role had changed significantly during his time in office as had the town which he represented, where the number of homes had doubled in the 46 years. When he joined the district authority, which serves a 1,311sq km area and a population of more than 90,000, no party had overall control, but since 1999 it has been run by Conservatives.

Mr Ellis said: “People were less politically-minded when I first became a councillor. It seems to be politically orientated now at all levels of local government.

“Councillors need to be so much more involved now. There’s many more processes to go through. To serve your community to the best of your ability councillors have got to be committed to the role, attending meetings, seminars and workshops.”

Mr Ellis said while he had never sought the limelight and had been asked to be a councillor to represent the farming industry, he had thoroughly enjoyed working as part of a team to improve the district.

He said: “Even though there has been differences of opinion, everyone shows mutual respect for each other. I will miss the comradeship with councillors and officers. Being a councillor has been a pleasure and an education and I am sorry that I have had to retire.”