AN “EXCEPTIONAL” parish clerk has stepped down after 36 years in the job.

Sally Raven took up the post at Radley Parish Council in 1974, on the day the village became part of Oxfordshire.

But after turning 70 last month, Miss Raven, from Cowley, thought she would call it a day.

A celebration, attended by more than 40 current and past councillors and villagers, was held in her honour.

Miss Raven said: “I decided that I had lots of things to do and I didn’t have the time. Radley is quite a busy council.”

She said: “I have always lived in a city, and there’s a different feel about village life. People feel more involved and there are so many village organisations in Radley, even though it’s a small community.”

When she started work as the clerk, Peachcroft – the Abingdon housing esate close to the village had not been built and the village hall was just a wooden hut.

The current village hall, sports pavilion, play area and sports fields, allotments, the new cemetery and the community shop were all constructed during her time at the council.

She said the highlight of her time was the council’s successful battle to save Radley Lakes from plans to dump ash from Didcot power station there.

But she added: “But there have been many highlights. We raised money for the sports pavilion, and it was marvellous to raise the money and then see it being used so much.”

At the celebration evening, Miss Raven was presented with a set of luggage as a retirement gift, as she is now keen to travel.

But she will still be helping out in her community. She will continue to work as the sub-editor for the Cowley Chronicle newsletter and as secretary at her local church council.

Parish council chairman Jenny Standen said: “Her contribution of 36 years as clerk has been invaluable. She has come to know the village extremely well, probably better than many of the people who live here.

“All the councillors who worked with her are very grateful for her help and contribution and certainly as chairman I’m very much indebted to her for her guidance and support.”

David Buckle was a parish councillor for 51 years and employed Miss Raven.

The 85-year-old said: “She was quite an exceptional parish clerk. And I don’t think her 36 years of service will ever be equalled.

“She didn’t just do her clerk duties, she took an enormous interest in the village. She attended functions and was very well known.”

The new clerk is Jane Dymock, from Appleton.