FORMER Ringwood Town councillor and postal worker, Neville James Chard, has died at the age of 88.

A native of Ringwood, Neville attended school locally before following a family precedent in joining what was then the General Post Office. His father and three uncles were telephone engineers. Neville started as a temporary messenger boy before becoming a postman and then sorting office worker.

He was presented with the Imperial Service Medal in 1988 after notching up more than 45 years at Ringwood's Southampton Road post office and in 1990 received an award for the longest serving staff member among 64 Royal Mail workers, and retired three years later.

"Neville joined Ringwood Town Council in 1973 until his retirement in 2015. He has multiple entries of his name on the council's roll of honour, having served as chairman of the council in 1982/83 and then for three years from 1986 until 1989 and latterly, in 1999/2000. In addition to all of those roles Neville has been chairman of every committee of the council," said a spokesperson from Ringwood Town Council.

Neville was the first, and still is the only person to be awarded the title of Honorary Freeman of Ringwood Town in 2010 in recognition of his long and outstanding service to the people of the town.

His service to the community began in the Second World War when he was an army cadet watching out for air raids from the observation post on the roof of the old Public Offices in Christchurch Road.

In 1948 he joined Bisterne Football Club and became secretary to the club in 1957, a role in which he continued until recently. He also served as groundsman to the club and has won many awards for the high standard of his pitches.

Neville joined the former Ringwood and Fordingbridge Rural District Council in about 1970 and, in 1973, became one of the first members of the newly formed New Forest District Council, on which he served until 1987.

Councillor Tim Ward, the current town mayor said, " I never had the privilege of serving with Neville but I have heard all about his long and dedicated service to this council, the New Forest District Council, the community of Ringwood and in particular his beloved Bisterne Football Club. For many years, he was known as the 'father' of the council and many decisions were made with the benefit of his knowledge and experience much of which came from the 51 years he spent as a postman in the town. He will be sorely missed by everyone and we send our very sincere best wishes to all of his family and friends."

Neville died on May 16 at Avon View Care Home, Christchurch, and a service to celebrate his life was held at Ringwood Parish Church on June 1.