High honour for Alderman Arthur

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A FORMER council stalwart has been honoured by his party for his hard work and effort over the past 40 years.

Arthur Preece, who served as a councillor for 24 years in Hartlepool, has been awarded the very first North East Liberal Democrat President’s Award.

The 84-year-old, who was also made an Alderman this year by the council, was recognised for his dedication and commitment to serving communities in town and for his work at a regional and national level dating back to 1973.

Mr Preece, of Spalding Road, represented the Fens ward continuously until May this year, when he missed out on being re-elected.

He said: “I am very proud to be the very first recipient and I was quite surprised because I didn’t even know it existed.

“It has been a very varied and interesting 40 years and I was pleased to accept it.”

Suzanne Fletcher MBE, North East Region Liberal Democrat President awarded Mr Preece OBE with the Presidents Silver Salver at the recent AGM of Hartlepool Liberal Democrats.

Jim Tighe, chair of Hartlepool Liberal Democrats, said: “When Arthur retired as Hospital Administer in the NHS he moved to Hartlepool and was elected to Cleveland Council in 1985 and then elected to Hartlepool Council in 1988.

“He built up the Liberal Democrats in Hartlepool to the stage where the Labour stronghold was broken in 2000 when he became leader of the council until 2002 in a Lib Dem/Tory administration.

“His hard and continuous work for the party at a national, regional and local level over so many years makes him the most deserving recipient of the very first North East Liberal Democrat President’s Award.”

His political career began in 1973 when he joined the Liberal Party and he went on to become chairman of the Northern Liberal Party from 1982-84, where he was involved in re-establishing a Liberal organisation in Hartlepool.

Mr Preece, who moved to town in 1987, stood as a parliamentary candidate for Hartlepool in 1987 and for South Shields in 1992.

Elected as a Liberal Democrat borough councillor for the Fens Ward in 1988, he then became a Cleveland County Councillor the following year until 1996, when Hartlepool became a unitary authority.

The retired hospital administrator, was also council leader from 2000-2002 and is a governor at Fens Primary School.

Mr Preece was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours of 1988 in recognition of his contribution to the NHS.

At the AGM meeting former town councillor Edna Wright was also honoured with the award of Vice Presidency of the party for all the sterling work she has carried out since joining the party in 1980.

Officials say she was at the forefront of the Save Our Hospital campaign and was an active ward councillor for over 20 years.