SANDFORD Parish Council held a very special celebration evening this week to mark its Clerk’s 40 years in post.
There were many tributes to Malcolm Vallance from current and former chairmen of the council as well as others he has worked with.
The current chairman of the Council, Richard Ward, welcomed everyone to the evening and acted as MC.
He gave the apologies of those unable to attend and invited everyone to enjoy a splendid spread of refreshments which had been prepared by Sandford caterers.
A presentation was then made to Malcolm on behalf of the Parish. This was a mantle clock with an engraved message of thanks.
In return, Mr Vallance presented the chairman with a gavel and stand, on which was engraved that it was a gift from him on completing 40 years with the council.
Mr Vallance was then invited to cut a celebration cake and a toast was made.
He then gave a short speech of thanks, recounting some memorable occasions and said: “I have been very fortunate that I have never looked at my duties as a job but as something I enjoyed with the bonus that I also got paid.”
He thanked all those present for attending and for their kind wishes.
Following this, speeches were made, the first by Jean Howard, one of Malcolm’s very first chairs.
She said that she was Malcolm’s second chair in 1985/6 and was inexperienced, adding that Malcolm had not been in post for very long.
She said that they worked together to get through the duties and added that she always appreciated the dedication Malcolm gave to his duties then and over the years.
She commented: “During his 40 years he has worked with 26 chairmen of Sandford Parish Council, but not just that, he looked after them and the Parish Councillors and always did an amazing job.
“I think he should be given the Freedom of Sandford and be able to walk sheep through the village!”
She concluded that he was a “marvellous ambassador for the village”.
Former chairman Paul Snell said that his first experience with Sandford Parish Council was 26 years ago in the early stages of the Sandford Parish Plan.
He spoke of his work with Malcolm since then and said he had a “vocation” for the job, was “an integral part of the community” and a “fantastic archivist”, particularly commenting about his scrapbooks which he is well-known for preparing about village and civic events.
He continued: “As chair, Malcolm was indispensable, he was four-square behind everything.”
Mr Snell spoke about the Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations in the Parish and concluded that the Parish was “lucky to have someone who went beyond a job”.
The Mayor of Crediton, Cllr Liz Brookes-Hocking, attended in her capacity as chair of a neighbouring parish and as the representative for Devon Association of Local Councils.
She said: “Congratulations from your neighbouring parish on 40 years and on behalf of DALC, Clerks can sometimes turn over very quickly and also have a very hard time.
“It is a really great achievement, gives a stable council and you can achieve things.”
Shuana Miles read words from Pat Yeo: “Dearest Malcolm, congratulations, what an achievement. I was hesitant on standing as chair and Phil Harvey said ‘Don’t worry, Malcolm knows everything and he will sort you out’, which is a theme which has come through this evening.”
She added: “You were a valuable support to me and a lifelong friendship developed. No-one loves the village like Malcolm, Sandford is very lucky to have such a man.
“Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me.”
Mr Ward read a message from MP Mel Stride which read: “Malcolm, after helping Sandford to celebrate so many Royal Jubilees, it is only appropriate we mark Malcolm’s Ruby Jubilee, a feat achieved only by six or seven of our Monarch’s since the conquest.
“Beating the bounds and laying boundary stones are ancient acts giving meaning here and now, something shared with the Parish’s ancestors.”
He spoke of the “time capsules”, the scrapbooks for which he is well-regarded.
He mentions his hard work for the parish and council and concluded: “I thank Malcolm on behalf of past, present and future Parishioners for all he has done for Sandford and that he will continue putting on local and national celebrations for many more years to come.
“Malcolm, thank you for everything, Mel Stride MP.”
County Councillor Mrs Margaret Squires thanked Malcolm for his service and said: “I think I am the longest person to have served alongside you, having been on your selection panel for your interview when you were appointed.
“I must say in the years when I was a parish councillor I appreciated your work and as chairman for your support and also since as a County Councillor.
“I really appreciated it.”
For three years Malcolm was, in addition to Sandford, also Parish Clerk of Crediton Hamlets Parish Council.
Before becoming a Parish Clerk, Malcolm had been a Parish Councillor at Kingsteignton, and at 27 years-old was its youngest Chairman.
Malcolm said he was grateful for all the good kindness shown to him on completing 40 years.