The longest-serving council clerk in Wiltshire is preparing to retire after 30 years serving the people of Melksham Without.

Mary Jarvis will step down from her role, which covers rural areas near the town, as well as the Bowerhill and Beanacre estates, at the end of March.

She said: “I’m not sure what I’m going to. It is a fascinating job. I have met many wonderful people and made a lot of friends.

“It was a very sleepy, rural parish when I first became involved. When I was interviewed, they said it was a just a couple of meetings and a few letters a month.

“It wasn’t until I went on a training course and someone said it was the biggest rural parish in Wiltshire I realised how much work it was.

“It was great to secure the village hall in Bowerhill and to be involved with the Millennium Rivers project, opened in 2000 by the Princess Royal, was lovely and very special to me.”

She will now have more time with her family in Broughton Gifford and the Baptist Church in Bradford on Avon.

However, Mrs Jarvis does not intend to lead a quiet life.

She said: “I am a very active person, so I will probably get involved in community projects.

“It will be lovely to have more time with my husband, Malcolm. This year will be our 40th wedding anniversary, but I’ve got a lot of life left in me yet.”

Council chairman Richard Wood said: “She has been an absolutely fantastic clerk for several different chairmen.

“She is very professional, very meticulous and absolutely dogged in pursuing things.

“She has done very well to groom the other people in the office to do a good job.

“We will be interviewing for a replacement soon, but it will be hard to find someone as conscientious as Mary.

“They don’t make them like her any more.”