A MAN whose family has held a ceremonial role in Richmond for more than a century is stepping down after 35 years.

Denis Sanderson became the civic banner man in 1969 and carried the town crest at the seven-yearly boundary riding and a variety of processions and events. In 1969, the post carried an allowance of £2.

Now 76, he has decided to hand over the banner to a younger candidate. "I applied for the post in 1969 because it had been in my family for some time, I believe back into the late nineteenth century, and I wanted to carry on the tradition," he said.

His grandfather, George Tempest, and uncle, Ernest Parker, were banner bearers.

"In the early days it was just a broomstick with a soft banner, which was quite light to carry, but the new banner, presented to the town in 1990 by the commander of Catterick Garrison, is heavier," said Mr Sanderson.

"At first it was once every seven years for the boundary riding and then the banner was put away and I was put away for seven years. When the town got the new banner, the mayor said it was to be used much more regularly for processions and other civic occasions.."

Mr Sanderson, who was born in Richmond and managed Metcalfe's sports shop, said he would miss meeting people and the sense of occasion that came with each outing.

Dr Peter Clarke, town clerk, said Mr Sanderson had carried out his duties with great pride and enthusiasm. He invited applications from men and women for the post, which involves turning out four to six times a year.

For further details, tel 01748 850808.