A CLERK who has served Kidmore End Parish Council for 40 years was given a surprise celebration during a meeting on Wednesday last week.
Seventeen people gate-crashed the open session at the parish rooms to commemorate the landmark reached by Roger Penfold, 64, who joined in September 1973.
They included former councillors, Rev Graham Foulis Brown, rector of St John’s Church, representatives from the village’s football and cricket clubs and Mr Penfold’s wife Sandra, daughter Sarah and grandchildren George, 12, and Jack, 10.
Giles Martin, who chaired the council for 16 years until last year, led the tributes and asked for them to be included in the official minutes as a public record of their thanks.
He said: “You have guided the council and its many chairmen, myself included, through the many twists and turns of local public governance, as only you know how and also looked after its budget as only you know how, which in recent years when we built the Gallowstree Common pavilion was an art and a science on its own.
“Roddy Young and myself had many sleepless nights not knowing how the council were going to be able to pay the bills as we seemingly had no monies but somehow or another you always managed it. I think I once publicly said you, above all people, seemed to know how to effectively get a quart out of a pint pot.”
Mr Martin, who lives in Gallowstree Common, said he wished he had Mr Penfold as his own personal financial controller.
He said: “I often jokingly say to people Roger is not particularly personally concerned as to whether the whole parish is covered in houses but you are always very particular that we arrive at such a decision correctly.”
Mr Martin added that Mr Penfold’s knowledge of local governance and procedure was “second to none”.
He handed over a bottle of Penfold’s wine and a signed card, while John Sheldon, from Kidmore End Cricket Club, provided a bottle of rum, which he said was ironically labelled the “Chairman’s Reserve”.
Mr Penfold said his first meeting had been in the same room but added: “I think the tables have changed and it does have toilets in here now.” He said it had been a “great pleasure” to serve the council for the most part but joked he had been forced to “kick the cat” in frustration when he returned home on several occasions.
“I’ve said to people that there’s no house that hasn’t had an extension in that 40 years but there’s been very little new build in the parish,” he said.
Mr Penfold believed there had been only two new sites in Gallowstree Common and one in Tokers Green. He said: “I’m thrilled that you would like to mark my service.”
Mr Penfold said he had recently told Dorothy Brown, chairwoman of South Oxfordshire District Council, that he was reaching his 40th anniversary.
He added: “I was worried and thought she knew something I didn’t because she sent me a letter saying ‘I wish you all the best in your retirement’. I didn’t know I was retiring! I’ve found it a pleasure working for this council and I hope I might be able to have that pleasure for a little while longer yet.”
A congratulatory letter from council chairwoman Sue Biggs, who was absent, was also read out at the meeting. Councillor Biggs said: “Since I’ve been chairwoman he’s been supportive and offered great advice, for which I’m grateful.”
Councillor John Swift also thanked Mr Penfold on behalf of the council and Councillor Caroline Aldridge added: “We would be a ship adrift without you.”