John and Kay Morris have completed a whirlwind 30 years of council work in which they had careers, raised four children and devoted themselves to local life.
So, they could be forgiven for the day they both fell asleep in the presence of the Queen at a Palace garden party.
On Monday evening they returned to a solid symbol of their dedication – Hadston House – to receive the thanks and good wishes of ex-colleagues on East Chevington Parish Council.
Chairman Scott Dickinson presented the couple with a decanter and glasses, the second time he had made a presentation to Kay.
When she opened the building in 1997, the then 13-year-old Scott handed her a bouquet and told her: “I want to do what you’re doing.”
His ambition came true and so did Kay’s, because as parish chairman all those years ago, she wanted young people to have a place of their own in the village. A £119,000 lottery grant set them on their way and after more fund-raising, Hadston House was created.
“It was my dream and it’s great it’s all coming together,” she said.
John and Kay moved from Kirkhill in Morpeth in 1971 to South Broomhill, where they converted a former Methodist chapel into a family home. Since there was now no Methodist chapel locally, the Morrises helped the congregation continue its activities at other venues, Kay, for instance running a Sunday school at the community centre.
In 1986, they moved to Widdrington and are now settling into a house in Amble.
A friend persuaded both to stand for election as Labour councillors. John’s win gave the party the slimmest majority on the county council and he became its youngest member.
This was when they were invited to the Buckingham Palace garden party.
John recalled: “The Queen was coming through the group of about 2,000 people and Kay and I fell asleep.” They woke in time to see her disappear into a marquee.
John went on to chair the education committee for more than 16 years. A sports specialist, he had taught at Longhirst Hall approved school before going into social services at North Tyneside.
One-time nurse Kay trained as a teacher after they moved to Broomhill and then taught at Newbiggin.
He chaired the county council twice, in 1997 and 2004, and she was Mayor of Castle Morpeth in 1996. During all this they both served on East Chevington Parish Council.
Scott said: “I remember them always being figures in our community that I admired.”