Atworth has its first ever freeman, after long-serving former parish councillor and lifelong resident David Webb became the first to be given the freedom of the village.

Mr Webb, 84, served 52 years on the parish council, was a school governor for 35 years, and helped to found the Atworth History Group, of which he is now an honorary life member.

He was formally presented with the freedom of the parish by Neston estate owner Sir James Fuller at the council’s AGM on Wednesday night at the village hall. Mr Webb said: “It’s not anything I would have expected. I was rather surprised, but I felt it was a great honour.

“A lot of things happened during my life that could be called highlights, but I call them the spice of life. However this has been a cut above all of them.”

A keen map collector and photographer, Mr Webb’s passion for local history was one of the driving forces behind the foundation of the history group, which meets every month from October to June.

He said: “I am interested in the history of the village. I have quite a collection of postcards, and one of my hobbies has been trying to collect maps of the village.

“They are trying to persuade me to write something about my life in the village, a memoir of the different things that have happened here.

“I know a lot of people in the village; there are a lot of new people, but I have got to know a lot of them as well.”

Born and raised in the village, the father of three and grandfather of five started working on his parents’ farm as a boy, before inheriting their tenancy, and now lives with his wife Joan.

Current council chairman Effie Gales-Sides said: “I was extremely pleased and proud to nominate David for this prestigious award. He has always been a good friend of the parish, and like me, has a love for Atworth and its people.

“He is always helpful, generous in spirit and modest about his accomplishments.”