Thursday, October 12, 2006

Records of Service

Until yesterday, the longest serving East Anglian local politician I'd come across was Frederic Chancellor. This chap was elected to the Chemsford Board of Health when he was 27 , became first Mayor of the new Chelmsford Borough in 1888 when he was 63 , stood down in 1917 at the age of 92.

But, via Ellee Seymour, I've read in the Eastern Daily Press about Jack Chase, a parish councillor who's 100 years old and still going strong:

While Jack Chase celebrates his 100th birthday today he remains just as committed to tackling the issues in his village of Caister, near Yarmouth - even though he is almost certainly the oldest parish councillor in the country.

“During the last election I talked about retiring for about one minute but the chairman of the council insisted I should carry on,” he said.

Marianne Webb, a spokesman for the National Association of Local Councils, said: “We don't keep this sort of record, but I have never come across anyone as old as Mr Chase still serving on a council.”

Pat Hacon, himself a Caister councillor since 1977, said: “He is the youngest centenarian you could meet. I have a picture of Caister Football Club in 1929 and he does not look much different.

“I see him at every council meeting I attend, in fact I'm sure he goes to more than me.”

It is the spirit that shows itself when you mention Mr Chase's other big passion, golf, that is clearly the key to his longevity as a public servant.

Despite having knees “condemned” by doctors, the former seven-handicapper played his last round on the Caister links only a year ago.

“I still practise my swing with a seven iron and I have 80 new balls still waiting in their boxes,” he said, the twinkle in his eye betraying the fact that he still sees himself as having a future on the fairway.

As well as his continuing stint on Caister council, which began in 1927, Mr Chase also represented his village on Blofield and Flegg Rural District Council from 1948 and Yarmouth Borough Council from 1973, following local government re-organisation.

He is proud of his visible achievements that few other local councillors could match.

“I think my biggest achievement was overseeing the start of work on the seawall in Caister in the 1930s. Without that we probably would not still be here,” he said.

“And wherever I look in the village I can see things I helped to bring about, from our three brand new schools after the war to the King George V playing fields.

Mr Chase is still quick to voice political views that sound surprisingly fresh and young.

“I am in favour of European countries some day coming together like the United States of America, but it will need to be led by the people rather than politicians,” he said.

Simply awesome. So why no MBE?

1 comment:

Trevor said...

Nice story Chris. As to why no MBE I guess either no one has thought to nominate him or like the late great Bernard Crick (the long serving councillor for Ashingdon) he would not accept a 'gong' of any sort.

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