STALWART councillor John Hudson is ‘over the moon’ to see young people stepping forward to take over the reins in local politics.
Cllr Hudson, who lives in Greenfield, is retiring as a borough councillor after two decades but will remain as a Parish Councillor until the end of his term in 2023.
And the 82-year-old praised fellow Conservatives Max Woodvine and Luke Lancaster who are following in his footsteps after being elected to Oldham Council this May.
Cllr Hudson said: “I am absolutely thrilled that young people have got in and will be able to affect the decisions that impact them in the future. I am over the moon.
“It doesn’t matter what their politics are as long as they stand up for Saddleworth and Oldham.
“There are a lot of great people who have put in hard work and effort for Saddleworth over the years and I am glad there are young people willing to step forward and do that now.
“People have said to me they were looking on the ballot sheet for my name but it wasn’t there. After 46 years it is my time to step down.”
Cllr Hudson began his political career in 1971 when he stood as a Labour councillor before taking a six-year break and joining the Conservative Party.
He was elected in 1977 as a Saddleworth Parish councillor – a position he has held ever since. He has been chairman a record four times, raising £59,500 for charities.
In 2017, the upstairs ballroom at the Civic Hall in Uppermill was officially named ‘The Hudson Suite’ and an engraved plaque was installed to mark his 40 years’ continuous service.
He was first elected to serve as a borough councillor in the Millennium, and was Mayor of Oldham in 2013-14, but decided not to stand for re-election this year in Saddleworth South.
He was awarded an OBE in the 2017 New Year Honour’s list for charitable and political service – an honour he admitted he plans to have engraved on his headstone!
He will continue in his role on Saddleworth Parish Council until 2023 but was approved a six-month leave of absence in March following the sudden death of his wife Katheen in January.
He plans to spend more time with his daughters and will still support the Mayor of Oldham and the chairman of Saddleworth Parish Council by attending events and fundraisers.
He added: “Max and Luke have worked tremendously hard for the Parish Council and I am sure they will do the same for Oldham.
“I’ve told them to get on with things and work hard for people. You can’t always get your own way but you’ve got to keep trying and people appreciate that.
“If they do not do it right, I will make a comeback!”
Cllr Graham Sheldon, leader of the local Conservative group, paid tribute to John’s dedication and service.
“John has worked hard over many years for the people of Saddleworth and Oldham,” he said. “He has given many hours and years of service to the residents of the borough.
“I will remember the many occasions which John organised for various charitable organisations, many events for the Mayor’s and Parish Chairman’s charities.
“One thing that has struck me over the years is the ability for John to remember the names of all the people he has met, and not only that but their relations and amusing stories which went with them. This is a true reflection of somebody who cares for others.
“The Conservative group will miss John as part of the team. He cares greatly for the borough and put a massive effort into engaging with all communities during his time as Mayor.
“The sad loss of his wife Kathleen was a sudden blow but we will remember the great way in which she would engage with everybody and what a great team they made.”
Cllr Howard Sykes, leader of the opposition on Oldham Council and one of the longest serving borough councillors of 34 years, added his memories and praise for John.
He said: “I think everyone who knows John will say he is a colourful individual.
“I first came across John when he worked in Shaw at the Conservative Office, when he used to come into my father’s shop for a sandwich for his lunch and he spoke very highly of our oven bottom muffins!
“Over the years, he has certainly livened up proceedings at council with his off-the-cuff remarks. John has never been afraid to speak out and often courted controversy.
“Outside of formal council, John has always been ready and willing to talk to anyone and everyone and discuss the state of the world and how every member is shaping up.
“John and Kathleen were eager to serve as Mayor and Mayoress and they did tremendous work in their year of office, raising a great deal of money for their worthwhile causes.
“Playing host and fundraising were two roles that came naturally to the couple – they had a proven record of playing a similar pivotal role in the work of Saddleworth Parish Council and Saddleworth society.
“I wish John all the very best in his retirement. I am sure we shall still hear that he is causing mischief from time to time.”