A COUNCIL chairman has honoured one of his forerunners for his lifelong commitment to the community.

Former miner Bill Firby represented his area as a councillor for more than 50 years and served as chairman of Durham County Council during the 1980s.

This morning (June 13), he was visited by current chairman Cllr John Robinson at St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham, where the 89-year-old is a day patient.

Mr Firby, a Second World War veteran with no fewer than 57 grandchildren, great-grand children and great great-grandchildren, was presented with a commemorative tie and cufflinks to mark the occasion.

Hospice chief executive Paul Marriott said: “Bill is a popular figure here at the hospice and he’s been coming for several months.

“We think he’s done his bit for County Durham and we’re proud now to be able to serve him.

“The staff, volunteers and guests all very much appreciate the visit to St Cuthbert’s by Cllr Robinson.

“It is a wonderful gesture toward Bill and other older people from County Durham.”

Mr Firby, from New Brancepeth, represented Deerness Valley on Durham County Council, winning 17 elections before retiring in 2006 on his 80th birthday.

As council chairman he supported plans to move into its current headquarters at Merryoaks.

During his visit, Cllr Robinson toured the day hospice, which caters for 75 people each week, and met staff and patients in the recently refurbished, ten-bed In Patient Unit.