A WELL-KNOWN figure has received a prestigious award in honour of his service to the community.
Artist, musician and fundraiser George Colley has been named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Hartlepool branch of the Rotary Club.
Mr Colley is not even a member of the organisation and was not aware of his award until it was presented to him in a surprise ceremony.
The honour, named after Rotary’s founder, is given to people for supporting others in need.
Mr Colley has helped raise thousands of pounds for good causes as leader of both the George Colley Singers and the Hartlepool Community Choir.
Their performances at venues such as Gateshead’s Sage and Billingham Forum have supported armed forces’ charities and Hartlepool & District Hospice.
Hartlepool Rotary Club president Ted Jackson presented Mr Colley with a Paul Harris Fellow certificate and lapel badge at a recent choir rehearsal.
Mr Jackson said: “Although George is not a member of Rotary, he demonstrates the Rotary motto of ‘Service above Self’ in a most practical way.
“He is a really talented musician and insiston the highest standards from his choir members.
“This is evident from the wonderful concerts performed by his choirs.”
Mr Colley, who is in his 60s, said: “I did not know anything about the award until it was presented to me.
“I am delighted although I have to say the award is all about the choir and not me.”
Mr Colley, who lives in the Naisberry Park area of Hartlepool, is also a prominent artist in town and was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Artists in 2005.
Now retired, he previously taught art and music at Dyke House School and also owned an art gallery and shop in Park Road.