A councillor who worked to give Ancaster its new cemetery has been given the freedom of the parish.
The honour was bestowed on Coun Andrew Newton before a meeting of the parish council on Monday night.
Coun Newton is now Honorary Freeman of the Parish for heading up the project to create the new cemetery in the village. The new cemetery has also been named in his honour and is now called The Newton Meadow.
Council chairman David Sayer announced the honour and said it was every parishioner’s right to be buried in the churchyard or burial ground of their parish, as enshrined in common law.
Coun Sayer said: “This right cannot be undervalued. It is very important to a significant number of people within the parish, especially the elderly.
“In March 2009, this parish was gifted a parcel of land for use as an extension to the current cemetery, however, to turn a piece of land into a usable cemetery is a significant task that has taken this council eight years to achieve. In these eight years, we have had to sort out legal aspects of this in terms of planning and other approvals, the practical aspects in terms of scope of works and contractors and the financial aspect.
“Now, when I say this ‘council’ has carried out all this, a council as a legal entity cannot do anything itself. It is totally reliant upon its councillors and other volunteers to do the work for it.
“In the case of the cemetery, one councillor in particular, Andrew Newton, took this on almost single-handedly. Yes, the council made a dec- ision and backed Andrew when required but Andrew put in significant time and effort on a purely voluntary basis – and all for the benefit of the people of the parish.
“Now, we on the council thought that the phenomenal effort put in by Andrew Newton should be recognised in some way.”
The new extension to the cemetery was consecrated last month by the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson, after a special service in the parish church at which the choir from Ancaster Primary School sang.
Mr Newton said: “It was a total surprise. You do these things as a volunteer and it’s like putting a bit back into the community. It was a nice gesture and it was good to get the recognition.”