LYDNEY is mourning the loss of one of it’s true community heroes, former mayor Derek Biddle who has died aged 83.

The manager of the town’s Dial-a-Ride service describes his passing as ‘the end of the era’, while Lydney Mayor, Cllr Tasha Saunders says that no town could ever have a more loyal or passionate advocate.

For so many people, the late Derek Biddle was, quite simply, the epitome of a community hero.

There were few local organisations and groups which hadn’t benefitted from his tireless work and wise advice over a lifetime of public service.

A former Mayor of Lydney, Derek has been an inspirational and dedicated advocate for Lydney both as a councillor for 30 years and a mayor for two years.

He was the chairman of the Recreation Trust of most of his 30 years on council and helped fundraise for the indoor pool at Freedom Leisure by selling bricks to help towards getting it built and also worked tirelessly toward the creation of the astro pitch at the site.

He started the Lydney Music Festival which ran for many years, bringing music, dance and art to Lydney and for many years lived and breathed the Lydney Community Centre serving as it chairman.

Regarding it as the heart of the town he spent untold hours volunteering and helping its users and groups and raising money for its running.

He was instrumental in supporting the youth groups of Lydney and was the key instigator in Lydney’s skate park and also set up the original youth cafe.

He was also one of the original trustees of Lydney Dial-a-Ride and was the chairman of trustees for more than 30 years.

“His death marks the end of an era for us,” said the group’s manager, Louise Currie.

Among those paying tribute to Mr Biddle was current Lydney Mayor Tasha Saunders.

“Derek was one of the most loyal and strongest advocates you could ever have for a town. He tirelessly fundraised for all the causes he was involved with. He especially supported the youth of Lydney and was instrumental in getting skate park built,”

“He will be greatly missed for the enthusiasm, generosity, and support he offered to all the organisations he was a part of,” she said.

“Derek leaves an incredible legacy and if I a councillor and mayor could only do half of what he has achieved, I would consider myself very lucky and grateful.

“My sincere condolences and love to his family and friends especially Pearl, Emma, Richard, John and his grandchildren,” said Cllr Saunders.