A FORMER mayor says he is “delighted” after he was handed a prestigious honour for his longstanding service to a town.

Robert Needham, 81, spent 12 years serving on Wivenhoe Town Council and was also mayor twice during that time.

Mr Needham, 81, was born in the town and spent most of his life there.

He worked for Essex Police living all over the county before settling back down in Wivenhoe for his retirement.

After retiring Mr Needham joined the town council getting involved in local politics and helping people across the town.

In September last year Wivenhoe Town Council voted to confer the title of Honorary Alderman or Alderwoman.

Legislation allows for this title to be conferred to persons who have, in the opinion of the council, rendered eminent services to the council as past members of that council.

Mr Needham was the first person to be given the Alderman honour.

He was surprised by his former council colleagues at a Christmas gathering with mayor Tim Kane bestowing the title on Mr Needham.

On the award, Mr Needham said said: “I had a slight idea something was afoot when I was invited to the Christmas party.

“I was shocked and delighted when I was called forward by mayor, Tom Kane, to receive the award.

“It was such a special evening and I am so thankful for the title.”

During his time on the council, Robert was the chair of the Wivenhoe neighbourhood plan steering group, preparing a successful neighbourhood plan, which took six years to finish.

Mr Needham said: “I enjoyed being the chair of council meetings, it is a great responsibility.

“I also enjoyed representing Wivenhoe at significant local events across the Colchester area.”

Mr Needham was also Colchester’s town crier for a period which saw him attend numerous events.

This included being invited to Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s 90th birthday.

It also saw him take home the trophy for “best content of cry” at the British Championships at Stoke on Trent in 2016.