Long-serving pair are rewarded for their work in the community in Thorpe St Andrew

From left, John Ward, Dennis Eley, Russell James and Ian Mackie.

From left, John Ward, Dennis Eley, Russell James and Ian Mackie. - Credit: Archant

Two men who have jointly dedicated more than 90 years to serving their community have been made freemen of their town.

Dennis Eley and Russell James both received the title after being nominated by people living in Thorpe St Andrew.

It comes after years of voluntary work in the area, including serving as councillors and working with local organisations.

Mr Eley, who lives in Postwick, holds the record as the longest serving member of Thorpe Town Council.

The 88-year-old said he joined the council in 1976 because he wanted to help out in the local community.

Since then he has overseen some of the most significant projects in the town, including the Morse Pavilion and extensions to the village hall.

'I always enjoyed it as we had lots of communication with local residents and it was interesting,' he said. 'It is nice to be acknowledged.'

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Mr Eley was also active in the wider community and served as a chairman to the Dussindale Park Community Trust.

Meanwhile, Mr James, from Thorpe St Andrew, began his public service by taking part in the 1961 census.

The 89-year-old held a number of posts throughout a long career in the public sector, before being elected to Broadland District Council in 1987.

He became a member of the then Thorpe St Andrew Parish Council three years later and immediately became the chairman.

Mr James also became the first town mayor after Thorpe was officially recognised in a town in 2006.

Speaking of his time as a councillor, he said: 'I was concerned with breaking down the barrier between the council and the residents.

'The main for thing me is the community spirit of the town. Thorpe is a lovely place to live.'

Former mayor John Ward said: 'I am honoured to be recognising two individuals whose time, dedication and effort not only to this council, but to many charities, community groups and individual residents have been so significant that the town council have resolved to award this highest honour'. Both Mr Eley and Mr James remain active in the community.

Do you know of someone deserving recognition? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684