A HEREFORD councillor and city freeman has died at the age of 83.

Bill Higgins, who became the city's 600th mayor in 1981, died on Tuesday after a period of illness.

During a 50-year stint working on the railways, Mr Higgins became involved in local politics as a renowned Labour councillor.

He was rewarded for his contribution to civic life when he was granted the Freedom of the City in 1997.

Mr Higgins, who was born in Leominster and worked at Hereford signal box, lived with wife Hazel in Redhill. They had five children and appreciated spending time with their four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren in their retirement.

Sandra Magnus, daughter of Mr Higgins, said her father was inspired to go into local politics by a family tradition.

"He was a very caring man who was public spirited. His uncles had been on the council in Leominster and he was absolutely thrilled and very proud to be given the freedom of Hereford," she said.

"He had not been well with a leg infection and had spent time in hospital from February to July this year."

His wife, Hazel, said she would miss her husband greatly after 63 happy years of married life. She added that she was proud to support him as Mayor of Hereford and enjoyed receiving a telegram from the Queen when they celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 2003.

No date had been set for the funeral as the Hereford Times went to press.