A FAMILIAR face throughout the North Tyne and Redesdale and long-serving parish councillor has died aged 78.

Jim Thompson was one of the area’s most well-known residents through his 50 years’ association with Bellingham Parish Council, as a volunteer with Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service for 30 years, as a mechanic and as a distributor of bottled gas throughout the district.

Born and raised in Bellingham, Mr Thompson, who was married to Margaret and had two sons, Mark and Andrew, always had the interest of the village at heart and that was highlighted through his dedication to the parish council.

He joined the council aged 21 and served as a member for 55 years until 2017, stepping down for health reasons. During that time, he served as chairman for more than a decade.

In addition to his voluntary service on the parish council, he also volunteered for the fire service for more than 30 years. Stationed in Bellingham, he was given a long service award during his time before he was forced to retire, when he hit the retirement age of 55.

Professionally, Mr Thompson and his brother Bob were in business together and ran a motor garage in the village.

It was while working on a car that he lost an eye, after a metal splinter fell into his eye. But he didn’t let the accident hinder him, according to his brother.

Bob said: “He got a bit of metal in his eye and he lost an eye, but about 18 months after that he was competing in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1965.

“He just got on with it; that was the kind of person he was. He got a glass eye and he didn’t let it affect him at all.”

After working in the garage, the brothers turned their attention to delivering bottled gas to homes across the North Tyne and Redesdale. He was always a practical man, and, even after his retirement, he took it upon himself to overhaul all the public benches in the village on behalf of the parish council.

Bob said: “Jim was a man who would get things done, and he always said things as they were. There were things he disagreed with on the parish council, and he would let them know. But he always had the community at heart, and wanted what was best for the village.”

A service of thanksgiving will be held at St Cuthbert’s Church, Bellingham, at 2pm on Wednesday.