Admitting he was retiring because of health problems—Alan has just bought a mobility scooter­—he assured the Herald: “I am all right in myself. I have got a bad hip and back and through 60 years of smoking my breathing isn’t quite as good as it could be.”

A committed councillor who has lived in Shipston for over 50 years, he’s retiring because he doesn’t want to sell the town short.  

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the council and I must be honest, I do wish my health had held up so I could carry on doing it how it should be done,” he said.  “But if you can’t do it properly then don’t do it at all, that’s what I think.”

Alan joined his late wife Angela on the council in 2004.  “The wife was already on the council. I went to a few meetings with her and I thought, I wouldn’t mind having a go at this,” he said.

Between them Alan and Angela were mayor in five out of the next six years.

But tragedy struck in 2009 when Angela died aged 72, just two days before she was due to become mayor again after two previous stints in 2004-05 and 2006-07.

Incredibly, Alan stepped into his wife’s boots for his third successive term.

“I was very glad to be out of the house, to keep my mind off things,” he said. “It stopped me moping around.”

Alan is most proud of setting up the working party system in which small groups of councillors are given specialised responsibility for different areas of council work.

Before, the town council met just once a month to discuss everything, now they meet in smaller groups and more frequently.

The council paid tribute to this addition in a letter to Alan.

It read: “Shipston has now become a “can do” town, and this change has come about, in the main, because of your common sense approach to the issues we have to deal with.” 

Alan said: “At a risk of sounding big-headed, it is probably the best thing that has ever happened to this town council, things do get done now.”

After working between 50 and 70 hours a week for 50 years, and then ten years on the council, Alan is looking forward to some well-earned rest.  

He rediscovered his passion for fishing after his wife died but even that is difficult nowadays.

Having remarried in October 2012, he now plans to spend as much time as he can with his new wife, Patricia. 

Alan thanked the other town councillors for their support, particularly during his time as mayor, and described parish clerk Georgina Beaumont and her assistant Liz Jaworska as “tremendous.”

Wishing Alan a peaceful and long retirement, the council said: “Your actions as leader of the town has instilled a sense of pride in the community, and it is only with people of your gravitas and imagination that we can go forward to an even better Shipston.”