COMMENT: It is difficult to imagine anyone more at the beating heart of the Ledbury community than Andy Ward, the genial landlord of The Talbot.

For a quarter of the century he has been an instrumental force in the promotion of Ledbury. He has been chairman of the town’s Tourism Association, chairman of town’s Promotional Working Group, founder and chairman of Ledbury’s English Festival, a driving force behind Ledbury’s twinning with the Swedish Town of Stromstad, a supporter of Ledbury in Bloom and a liaison officer for Ledbury Carnival Association.

Now Mr Ward, aged 68, is retiring to the Isle of Man where his wife, Maria, also a much-loved figure behind the bar at The Talbot, has a Government position as a counsellor.

They will be much missed, and almost impossible to replace, because even in Ledbury such selfless devotion to community events is difficult to find.

It takes a great deal of work, in one’s own time, to organise events and projects which benefit so many residents. Towns with many people like Andy and Maria would be wonderful places indeed; but even in Ledbury it has been a longstanding problem to find enough people to carry out all the duties necessary to keep the community lively and the town attractive to outsiders.

Ledbury in Bloom, for instance, is forever appealing for more helpers, despite its run of remarkable gold medals; and the Carnival Association likewise would surely welcome new faces. Mr Ward represents an

old-school devotion to the community, and he will be a hard act to follow.