ONE of the best known characters in Usk, the longest serving Welsh member of the Labour Party, has died.

Jim Powell, who was 97, was widowed seven years ago when his wife, Dolly, died, and he is survived by three sons Glyndwr, Mervyn and Colin, and six grandchildren.

He had been an Usk town councillor and was mayor on one occasion and during his term of office he attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

He was the treasurer and a deacon at the United Reformed Church in Twyn Square for many years until it closed, and was responsible for repairing the town clock in the square. Until his retirement at the age of 65 he was an electrical supervisor at the ICI factory in Pontypool.

As a keen gardener and beekeeper he won many prizes at local horticultural shows. As the longest serving member of the Welsh Labour Party - he joined in the 1920s - he was invited to a reception at 10 Downing Street a couple of years ago where he met Tony Blair, his wife Cherie, and a number of Cabinet members.

It was a particularly proud moment for him, and he was accompanied on that memorable day by his son Colin and grandson Julian, who was a politics student.

The funeral will take place at St Mary's parish church in Usk on Thursday, April 4 at 2.30pm.