A COMMUNITY stalwart who is always there to lend a helping hand has been given the Freedom of Ludgershall.

Morris Betteridge, aged 84, was handed the honour at a ceremony at the town’s memorial hall on Saturday, attended by councillors, civic dignitaries, former colleagues and friends.

Mr Betteridge served on Ludgershall Town Council for around 19 years.

He said: “I had an interest in the town and I only gave up then because I was 80-years-old.”

For a number of years, Mr Betteridge has run the Ludgershall Royal British Legion and orchestrated the Poppy Appeal, for which he has won a number of awards.

He said he has raised around £10,000 in the eight years he has been doing the role.

But his volunteering does not stop there as he has been involved with the town’s Link Scheme, driving those in need get where they want to go, and helps out with the Friday Club by opening up the hall and setting out the chairs to allow the elderly members to enjoy the group.

And in talking about his host of volunteering roles, Mr Betteridge said: “When you get involved in one thing you get involved in everything.”

In his early career, he served in the Ministry of Defence as a firefighter, first working in Beaulieu and then Marchwood, before being transferred to Tidworth and setting up home in Ludgershall.

Mr Betteridge went on to serve in the fire brigade for 42 years, working in eight different stations overall.

During the special occasion on Saturday, Mr Betteridge was presented the Freedom of the Town by Ludgershall mayor Councillor Mike Giles.

Talking about the day, he said: “I was honoured, it was unbelievable as I never expected anything like this.

“It was unbelievable, the amount of people of people that turned up. I knew everyone there on Saturday, it was nice — very friendly.”

Mr Betteridge has already put the plaque and medal on his mantelpiece, in pride of place for visitors to see.