FORTY years of public service will come to an end in May as Torfaen’s longest-serving councillor prepares to stand down.

Cllr John Cunningham was first elected to Cwmbran Community Council in 1977, and has represented the Upper Cwmbran ward for the entirety of his political career.

The executive member for neighbourhood services, he served mayor in 1989, and was also the election agent for the former Torfaen MP Paul Murphy, now Lord Murphy of Torfaen.

“This year marks my 41st year as a councillor in Torfaen,” he said.

“It has been a privilege and an honour to serve the people of Upper Cwmbran for over 40 years, but it is now time to step down and let someone new take on the role.

“I would like to say thank you to the residents of Upper Cwmbran who have voted for me over the last 40 years, and my fellow ward colleagues who I have had the privilege to work alongside.”

Cllr Cunningham, 75, also paid tribute to his wife, Patricia.

“I would like to say a particular thank you to my wife Patricia who has been a constant source of support,” he added.

“She is also retiring and we are looking forward to spending a lot more time together over the next few years.”

Cllr Cunningham was awarded a papal knighthood in 1995 for services to the community, and also received an MBE from the Queen in 2000 for services to the voluntary sector.

He has been the chairman of Torfaen Aids for the Disabled for 28 years, while he co-founded Torfaen Community Transport in 1989.

He said: “Outside of the council I am most proud of co-founding Torfaen Community Transport with cllr Cynthia Beynon, who sadly passed away a few years ago.

“I have been disabled myself since I was two years old and am incredibly proud that the service we set up to help others with disabilities or limited mobility is still going strongly.”

The leader of Torfaen council, cllr Anthony Hunt, said: “John has been a stalwart of local government in Torfaen for the past 40 years, yet he has never forgotten his roots in his community in Cwmbran.”

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, meanwhile, said: “I have known him for many years and have seen at first-hand the tireless work he does for the people who elected him.

Lord Murphy said: “He was rightly given the MBE for services to the voluntary sector, especially dealing with disabled people.

“I wish him well in his well-deserved retirement.”