A CHAMPION of Darlington's Skerne Park estate has retired from her post as chairwoman of a community group.

Joyce Standing has been chairwoman of Skerne Park Residents' Association for more than 16 years.

She was one of the founder members of the group, with ward councillor Hannah Straiton, in response to residents' concerns about the estate.

The pensioner, who was jointly named Darlington Citizen of the Year in 1996, has been fundamental in helping to raise money to renovate the houses on the estate.

She said: "I always said that when the last houses got done that would be the time I would step down.

"They are busy working on the last couple of houses now.

"There have been a lot of changes in Skerne Park over the years and we have had a lot of support from various organisations, including the council and the police.

"I am not sad to leave because I will still be involved with the community centre, where I am secretary."

Mrs Standing said the residents' association had helped to set up an action group, community caf, and neighbourhood house, as well as oversee funding for house renovations and raising concerns about crime with the police.

"Skerne Park has never been a really bad estate," said Mrs Standing, who is a school governor at Skerne Park Junior School.

Darlington Citizen of the Year Michael Nicholson, a father of three, will take over as chairman of the residents' association.