TREES have been planted in memory of two former Bournemouth mayors who both died last year.

A large group of councillors, residents, and members of the parks team gathered at a serene patch of parkland in Granby Road, Muscliff for the first tree-planting ceremony, which was in honour of long-standing councillor Ron Whittaker.

Current Bournemouth mayor Cllr Eddie Coope, who knew Ron for nearly 25 years, described it as a “special occasion” and a “great honour”.

Ron’s wife, Jackie, said it would have meant “an awful lot to him” to see the tree planted in his memory.

“I’m so pleased as well. I come down here quite often, and Ron used to come down here a lot himself.

“I can imagine him turning up now, looking at this tree, and feeling pleased. It’s a lovely tribute to him.”

Ron, a councillor for 44 years, was first elected as a Labour councillor for Moordown North in 1971, but left the Labour group to become an independent.

Council boundary changes saw his ward become Throop and Muscliff.

He was mayor of Bournemouth from 1993-94 and finally stood down from the council May last year. A cancer sufferer, he died in hospital in September 2015, hours after being made a freeman of the town he loved.

Cllr Anne Rey, who served alongside Ron for 12 years, said he was loved by the residents in his ward.

“They still can’t get over the fact he’s gone,” she said.

“Although he retired in May last year, he was very much involved still. He was a one-off Ron, a character, and for the people.

“I’ve been very lucky because I’ve had two mentors. I’ve known Ron since I was nine years old. He and my dad both served on Dorset County Council. When he was mayor, he made my dad freeman of the town, which was lovely.”

Anne’s father, Philip Whitelegg, served for nearly 50 years on Bournemouth council and was mayor in 1966.

The Redhill to Ensbury Park bypass is already named Whitelegg Way in his honour. Now, a flowering pear tree has been planted in his memory at Redhill Park Bowls Club.

Speaking of the pair, Anne said: “You’ll never see the likes of them again. They gave continuous service for many years.”