The contribution of a village stalwart has been acknowledged with a tree planting ceremony.

Farmer Mike Newman has been chairman of Pidley-cum-Fenton Parish Council for more than 50 years, having reached half a century in the role last May.

To celebrate, the parish council and church surprised Mr Newman by asking him to do the honours and plant a cherry tree outside the village hall on Sunday, January 25.

He said: “It was a complete surprise. I feel very honoured. Way back in 1961 there was a parish and district election and a certain person in the village said ‘Have you ever thought about being involved?’

“I came home and said to the wife about it and I’ve been involved with local government ever since.”

Mr Newman, who is 81, was the longest serving district councillor, completing 37 years on Huntingdonshire District Council, including stints as chairman of HDC from 1986 to 1988. He had also been a member of St Ives Rural District Council before that.

He thanked his wife, June, for her support over the years and added: “They made me parish council chairman in 1964 and I’ve said that next year they must find another nomination for chairman as it’s time for me to retire.”