Suffolk: Councillor steps down after incredible 65 years of service

HE has seen the introduction of the NHS, the creation of the Commonwealth, watched 14 Prime Ministers come and go and is responsible for one of Honington and Sapiston’s most prominent landmarks.

And now, after 65 years of continuous service, 93-year-old Syd Thurlow is stepping down from the parish council.

Mr Thurlow, who first sat on his council seat five years before Queen Elizabeth settled into her thrown, said yesterday: “It may have been a long time, but I enjoyed every minute.”

Colleagues, who said they think the long-serving councillor could be a record breaker, said no one knew the parish better.

The former carpenter and joiner, who said he has tried his hand at everything from mole-catching to undertaking, first joined the council in 1947 after serving in the air force during the Second World War.

The father-of-three, of Sapiston, said he had been persuaded to join by farmer Jack Thomson and served while running his undertaking and building business from which he retired in 1984.

Not only has the 93-year-old helped build a strong community, he has had a hand in constructing about 100 village houses – including his own.

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“I’ve also built all the benches and picnic tables. Because I’m a joiner, the council bought me the wood and I would do it.”

But it is the addition to the narrow road bridge over the river Blackbourne that separates the villages of Honington and Sapiston that Mr Thurlow considers his finest achievement.

“It had always been so dangerous to walk down there and it would cost a lot of money to put a footpath in, so I did it.”

He also fondly remembers the “great excitement” caused when the parish council created a children’s playground in the 1950s.

Mr Thurlow, who has written a book about his life dedicated to his “dear wife” Cicely, said he had seen “a lot of changes” in the council and the villages he has represented over the last six and half decades – from improved street lighting to better drainage.

The keen gardener added: “I will miss it, but it is time for new blood to come through on the council now.”

Robin Howe, vice chairman of Honington and Sapiston Parish Council, said Mr Thurlow would still be consulted regularly.

“There is nothing Syd does not know about Honington and Sapiston. If you want to know something about what was done and where, he knows.”

A surprise party was thrown for Mr Thurlow at the Fox Inn in Honington where he was presented with a plaque detailing his length of service and a bird feeder.