A MAN from Leigh has enjoyed the past year as number one citizen in Stowmarket.

Next week 74 year-old Frank Whittle will finish his term as Mayor of the pleasant Suffolk market town where he has served as a councillor for the past six years.

But he and his wife, Audrey, will continue to keep up appearances. They have already been to Buckingham Palace and met the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and welcomed Princess Anne when she visited Stowmarket. Now in mid summer they are off to the Palace again, this time to meet the Queen.

Mr Whittle reflected on his early years in Wigan Road, Leigh where his mum kept a shop and his days at St Peter's School in Firs Lane and then Manchester Road Boys' County Secondary School. The Conservative councillor and his wife married 52 years ago and have had a deep involvement in the licensed trade, although Frank began his working life as a slater and tiler with Walsh Brothers in Church Street, Leigh.

Frank and Audrey kept the Three Tuns in Moor Lane at Bolton during the early 1960s and had eight other hostelries at different times in various parts of the country.

The pub trade runs in the family as Frank's brother Tommy, who now lives in Brewery Lane, Leigh kept the Brewery Inn and the Boundary in Leigh and they had a sister who was stewardess at Bedford Liberal Club.

And Frank is, not surprisingly, chairman of Stowmarket's licensing authority!

"I have a lot of fond memories of Leigh and we have a lot of relatives in the area," said Frank.