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A former chairman of Durham County Council, who represented his area as a councillor for 52 unbroken years and who is now a day guest at St Cuthbert’s Hospice, is to be honoured by the present council chairman, John Robinson.

Former miner Bill Firby, 89, is a World War 2 veteran and has an incredible 57 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren.

Clr Robinson, who will be wearing his ceremonial chain, is visiting Bill in recognition of his life-long service for the community.

He will be presented with a commemorative tie and cufflinks by Clr Robinson in St Cuthbert’s Hospice on Friday June 13th, at 11am, but also aims to give the chairman a St Cuthbert’s Hospice Midnight Walk t shirt for display at the council, in return.

St Cuthbert’s Hospice Chief Executive Paul Marriott said: “Bill is a popular figure here at the hospice and he’s been coming for several months. We think he’s done his bit for County Durham and we’re proud now to be able to serve him.”

“The staff, volunteers and guests all very much appreciate the visit to St Cuthbert’s by Clr Robinson. It is a wonderful gesture toward Bill and other older people from County Durham who Clr Robinson will meet here.”

The council chairman will receive a guided tour of the Day Hospice which caters for some 75 individual guests each week. He will also see the recently refurbished, ten-bed In Patient Unit and meet patients, staff and volunteers.

Bill receives care at the hospice and enjoys the company of fellow guests. As council chairman himself in the 1980s, he became an advocate for the then planned St Cuthbert’s Hospice to eventually take over the Merryoaks building it now occupies.

Bill, from New Brancepeth, Durham, represented the Deerness Valley on the New Brancepeth Urban District Council and Durham County Council, only retiring on his 80th birthday in 2006. He fought and won 17 elections.

He said he would give the chairman one of the hospice’s Midnight Walk t-shirts to try to encourage more people to take part in the event, which is on June 21st.

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