A FORMER Mayor of Newent is to be the first adult buried in the town’s new cemetery – more than 30 years after he was instrumental in obtaining the land.

It’s unlikely that Bill Offord, who passed away on September 19 at the age of 85, would have guessed that he would be the first to be buried in a new section of land purchased for the cemetery whilst mayor back in the late 1980s.

“Dad was very ill when he died, but I know he’d be delighted to be the first there – welcoming all the new ‘residents’,” says son, Andy Offord. “He was hoping it would be in use before he died.

I don’t think he expected to be the first adult, but I know he’d be chuffed!”

The purchase of the land took years to finalise, with Bill’s wife of 65 years, Cynthia Offord, involved as a new councillor in the project when planning permission was obtained in the 1970s.

“When mum was a councillor, they thought ahead and realised that before long, the current cemetery would fill up.

“The chairman at the time, Rev Geoffrey Cox, worked with others to obtain planning permission on the land next door.

“It wasn’t for another 10 years, when dad was Mayor that they managed to purchase the land,” continues Andy.

Bill, who was awarded the Ambassador for Newent Award in 2018 for his work in the community, held the office of mayor six times and was deputy mayor for many of his 25 years as town councillor, until stepping down following his Parkinsons diagnosis in 2010.

He was involved in the implementation of a number of iconic features in the market town, including the acquisition of the Newent’s renowned lake as well as it’s renovation and improvements when the park was built 20 years later, the Arboretum and many of the town’s sports facilities.

He was also a district councillor when the Forest of Dean District Council was created in 1973.

Serving the community was very important to my parents. After moving to Newent from London in the 1960s, they were determined to support the town and play their part.

“They both had a strong belief that everyone should do their bit, something that has been instilled into the family,” says Andy, who has been involved in organising the famous Newent Onion Fayre since 2010.

Cynthia, 85, was a Parish Councillor for over 10 years, four of which were as chairman.

In addition to this, she was also a school governor for over 30 years, at Glebe Infants School, Picklenash School and Newent Community School, including position of chairman for 17 of those years.

In 2003, Bill was nominated for services to the community and the couple attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

Bill, who will be buried next Tuesday (October 10), leaves his wife Cynthia, three children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren and three step great-grandchildren.