THE SOLE topic of conversation at the Conservative Club in Richmond this morning (Tuesday, July 15) was Mr Hague’s surprise departure, which was met with shock, surprise and sadness.

Bar stewardess Angela Uren said she could not believe they would lose him as an MP.

“It was such a shock – it’s all anyone has been talking about here today.

“He is a lovely man and would always ask after members - especially Mick Kilvington, who had been ill, and when he sadly died last year he wrote a lovely card to his wife, Joan.

“Whoever takes his place has a hard act to follow, but he will always be welcome here for a pint or a game of dominoes.”

Life member of the club Eddie Roberts used to help organise Mr Hague’s surgeries and knows him well.

“The main thing I would say about him is that his mental dexterity was astonishing – he could switch so easily between speaking to children at a school, to important local issues, to his humanitarian work in Syria,” he said.

“Whoever takes his place needs to have that same care, and needs to be as approachable as he was.”

Richmond resident David Simpson said Mr Hague had done a tremendous job for the town.

“He loved the area and understood it -he was easy to speak to and will be missed.”

Richmond trader Peter Warne, from Ken Warne’s Grocers, said: “The town is coming up to an important part of its existence with the development of Catterick Garrison town centre – whoever takes on the job needs to understand these issues.”

Glynis Tyrrell, a member of the Conservative Committee in Richmond, said she was surprised to see him go.

“I don’t think anyone could do better than he has. And he is an excellent speaker – he really puts you at ease.”

But Catterick Garrison resident Stuart Styles said he felt Mr Hague was out of touch with local issues and did not engage with the community often enough.

Richmond town councillor Amanda Adams said: “My son once interviewed him for Richmond School newspaper and he was fantastic with the kids - loads of time for them, funny and knowledgeable.

“Since becoming foreign secretary he has by nature of the job been a little more distant. When I first moved to the area about 20 years ago he was often seen walking by the river with his dog.”

Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons agreed that his role as foreign secretary had affected his ability to serve his constituents – and said Northallerton’s Friarage Hospital would still have maternity services if he had not taken the job.

But he said he had been very generous to him when he was a Liberal Democrat Mayor of Richmond.

“Despite knowing I would never vote Conservative he agreed to speak at my Mayor’s Ball and helped to fundraise,” he said.

“But when he became foreign secretary he took his eye off the ball a bit – if he didn’t take that job we would still have maternity services. I can understand him being loyal but that has cost his community in local services.”