A SENIOR councillor who was granted an OBE in the New Year Honours list has described the award as an exciting way to start the new year and to conclude her decade as council leader.

June Imeson has held the senior post at Hambleton District Council since the early 1990s - but had already represented Great Ayton on the authority for 20 years by then.

Although she hopes to remain a back bencher, she confirmed that her inclusion on the New Year Honours list will not change her mind about quitting as leader in May.

"I've had enough now and it is time for someone else to take over the reins," she said.

"Nevertheless, I very much hope the people of Great Ayton will allow me another term as their councillor so I can continue representing them in Northallerton."

Coun Imeson, who also sits on Great Ayton parish council, ran a family garage business with her husband until illness forced them to sell up 20 years ago.

Mr Imeson, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, died two years later. Despite her loss, Coun Imeson was determined to continue playing an active role in public life and continued as a member of the local authority.

A Conservative, she is currently the chairman of the cabinet at Hambleton District Council, the authority's spokesman on tourism and a member of the Captain Cook Tourism Association.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to have been nominated in the awards. It was a delightful surprise when I realised what the letter was - and I'll admit I had to read it again."