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Honorary Freeman Bill Bellerby MBE, 1917-2017

It is with great sadness that we can confirm that former Mayor and Honorary Freeman Bill Bellerby MBE, who celebrated his 100th birthday in March this year, has died.

Bill 2 Bill, who was Mayor of Guildford for two consecutive years, and a councillor for 42 years, made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Guildford.

Council Leader, Cllr Paul Spooner says: "Bill Bellerby did so much for the people of our borough. Known as 'Mr Guildford' he was a true community politician, and dedicated his support to local campaigns for Guildford arts groups and worked tirelessly for young people and the disabled. Well-respected and much loved, he will be remembered for his fantastic contribution to the borough. Rest in peace Bill, you will never be forgotten".

Cllr Caroline Reeves, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, says: "The sad news of Bill Bellerby's death at the grand age of 100 reminds us of what an amazing man he was, a real man of the people of Guildford and a great example of service in public office. He and his wife Doreen both worked tirelessly for the best for their residents, always with plenty of humour and grace. Bill will be long remembered with much affection by all".

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Angela Gunning adds: "Bill's selfless commitment to achieve the best for his fellow residents in Guildford was an example to us all. The Labour Party is honoured to have had Bill as a colleague. We will miss his delightful wit and skill as a raconteur - as well as his achievements in a very long political life in Guildford".

Born in Penarth in 1917, Bill Bellerby married Doreen in 1941 while he was serving with the Queen's Royal Regiment and they moved to Guildford in 1946. He was a teacher in Guildford, Worplesdon, Farncombe, Woking and Albury until 1960 when he was appointed Headmaster of Knollmead Primary School, Tolworth, a post that he held until his retirement in 1979.

Bill was first elected to Guildford Borough Council in 1953 and he retired, after 42 years' continuous service, in 1995. He also served as a Surrey County Councillor from 1965 to 1967 and again from 1981 to 1989. He twice contested the Guildford parliamentary seat and was Mayor of Guildford in 1972-73 and 1973-74.

During his time as a councillor, Bill served on almost every Council committee, but took a particularly keen and active interest in the arts, activities for young people and disabled groups. He was closely associated with numerous arts organisations, including the South East Arts Executive, the Guildford Amateur Theatre Association, the Herald Players, Guildford Symphony Orchestra, Guildford Choral Society, Guildford Opera Company, the Nomads Theatre Group, the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford Arts Council, the Book Festival, the South East Music Trust and the Guildford Philharmonic Society.

He worked tirelessly for the young people of the borough. He was actively involved over many years with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Guildford Children's Holiday Play Scheme Association, Henley Fort Outdoor Centre for Young People and Guildford Sports Council.

He also served as President of the Guildford and District Mentally Handicapped Association, the Lockwood Association and the Surrey Branch of the British Sports for Disabled Association. He was also patron of Guildford Sport for All and Disability Challengers and a Governor of Pond Meadow School for Children with Severe Learning Difficulties.

Together with his late wife Doreen, who died in 2015, he was awarded the MBE in 1991 in recognition of his services to the community. In the same year, they were both awarded Honorary Degrees by the University of Surrey.

At a special meeting on 25 March 1995, the Council conferred the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Guildford on Bill and Doreen in recognition of their long and distinguished public service as councillors. The honour also recognised their massive contribution to the work of local voluntary organisations, the arts, sports and recreation and, above all, their steadfast commitment to the welfare of Guildford and its citizens.

The former Bellerby Theatre was named after them. In 2014, as recognition of their support to the local arts scene for over 50 years, G Live renamed its studio space The Bellerby Studio.

Details of the arrangements for Bill's funeral will be announced shortly.

Published on Wednesday 20 September.