A farmer who has dedicated a quarter of a century to his community has received a prestigious award.

Cllr Joan Nicholson, Chair of Durham County Council, presented the Chairman’s Medal, the highest civic honour in County Durham, to recently retired Teesdale farmer, Richard Betton.

For more than 25 years, Richard has devoted his time to the Teesdale farming community. He was first appointed as chair of the North Riding and Durham NFU County Branch in 1998 and is presently the longest serving member of the NFU Council.

In this time, Richard has represented local farmers, holding various positions on groups including the Hill Farming Advisory Committee, the North East Ministers Advisory Panel, and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Until recently, he was also the northern regional director of the Farm Crisis Network, a charity supporting farming families in need, and has been a voice for raising the profile of mental health issues in farming and helping young people in the industry.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Cllr Joan Nicholson presenting the Chairman’s Medal to Richard Betton

Also receiving a medal was David Million, owner of Bishop Trains Limited, which maintains the ticket office at Bishop Auckland Station.

David also runs the Stockton & Darlington Railway Youth Team, a group which helps ten to 16-year-olds gain important training, volunteering, and work experience.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Cllr Joan Nicholson presenting the Chairman’s Medal to David Million

The youngsters get involved in all manners of station roles, from helping passengers and supporting events to selling poppies for the Royal British Legion.

Since it was established in 2007, the group has helped hundreds of young people develop communication, leadership, and teamwork skills to set them up for the world of work.

Cllr Nicholson also presented a medal to Louise Clarke for her work to connect her community.

Working as a pharmacist by day, Louise is also the owner of The Garage Bar & Grille, in Burnhope, where she not only runs the pub but is involved in everything including cooking the food.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Cllr Joan Nicholson presenting the Chairman’s Medal to Louise Clarke

Her nominees commented on how welcoming Louise is to anyone who walks into the pub, bringing them into its family through themed nights and activities for people in the area to get involved in.

This included a poppy display at the pub which was so well-received that another organisation in the area has requested a display for its venue this year.

Cllr Nicholson said: “I am delighted to award the Chairman’s Medal to three people who are dedicated in their service.

“The work of Richard, David and Louise has given people the opportunity to contribute to their community, creating a supportive environment for people to feel part of something bigger.

“Collectively, they have contributed decades of their own time to support others. They have been a voice for their communities, which has made a significant difference to people of all ages and walks of life.”