A bench has been presented to a retired Grafton parish councillor who served on the council for more than 30 years.

Goff Beese, 86, became a Grafton parish councillor in 1978, a year after moving from Kimpton where he was chairman of the parish council for 14 years.

He retired last year and on Sunday a bench was presented to him at St Nicholas Church, featuring a plaque which reads: “Goff Beese. In gratitude for a lifetime of service to the parish.”

Mr Beese said: “It was a complete surprise.

“I was told to go to church and we had a service, and then the congregation headed down to the car park and I was going to slip off home. Then Peter Lemon started giving a speech about my time as a councillor and I looked behind me and there was the bench. It’s a lovely quality bench.

“It was a shock because I don’t have a very high opinion of myself, so it was nice to see all the congregation there in my honour.”

Mr Beese was chairman of Grafton parish council for 17 years and has been the church warden at St Nicholas Church since 1979.

He said: “I enjoyed serving on the parish council, it’s been grand.

“I don’t go looking for gossip but if someone comes to me with a problem I do my best to help.”

Speaking at the bench presentation, Coun Lemon said: “Goff has been the strength and inspiration of our church, where he and his wife served as church wardens.

“He has been the rock that so many have turned to for help and only he knows how many weddings, christenings and funerals he has so generously been present at to help where required.

“As an acknowledgement of Goff’s lifetime of service and in gratitude for all he has done to enrich the lives of his fellow parishioners, the Parochial Church Council and parish council have great pleasure in presenting Goff with this bench.”