A PARISH councillor is celebrating retirement after 50 years of service.

At the annual meeting of St Mary Bourne Parish Council on Tuesday, 24 April, a packed hall paid tribute to Councillor Ray Randall who, after more than 50 years on the parish council, has decided to retire.

He was presented with an engraved vase with the inscription “with grateful thanks for five decades of outstanding service to the parish” by chairman of the parish council David Peart.

Ray said it was “an honour” to have worked for the parish, adding: “Looking back over what has been achieved and to have had a hand in it has been great”.

The 81-year-old was born in the village and has lived all his life in the St Mary Bourne parish.

Ray was invited to be a parish councillor to “keep things local” over 50 years ago and has been re-elected ever since.

He has served under six chairmen during that time and has been deputy chairman himself.

He was a governor for St Mary Bourne Primary School for nearly 30 years, on the cricket club committee for 30 years and a member of the Vitacress Community Forum.

The respected councillor was also involved in the building of the first village centre and in the fundraising efforts for the current village centre now celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Ray was the driving force on behalf of the parish council for organising memorable Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the parish for The Queen.

His service was recognised by an invitation to a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2005 which he attended with wife Gwen.