A FAMILIAR face will be missing at Kilncraigs today for the first time in 10 years as councillors return for the next cycle.

Menstrie's Les Sharp, who represented the West Ward for a decade, has retired as councillor, his name having been absent from ballot papers earlier this month.

The 69-year-old, who served as council leader for three years and latterly chaired the Clacks and Stirling Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), left Kilncraigs with fond memories and hopes the progress made in the past years will continue.

He told the Advertiser: “It's been an exciting time and I think the last three years have probably been the best for the HSCP because we got things done and it's moving in the right direction.

“You could write a book about what's happened, changes in political direction and management – it's been a huge journey, it really has.”

Mr Sharp is retiring due to his age, but there is no stopping the soon 70-year-old yet as he plans to keep active in his community.

This includes looking after Menstrie Community Garden with a team of volunteers, publishing the newsletter Menstrie Matters and he is the keyholder to Menstrie Castle.

“There is plenty to go along with, I'm not lost for jobs to do,” he mused.

And while he is scaling some of his commitments back, he will still be chairing the new Locality Network Group, which will look at bringing more and better health and social care services to Clacks.

In the past 10 years, Mr Sharp has also been proudly involved in various roles with APSE, latterly as Scottish chair, which promotes local employment and works with councils to benchmark services.

He has many fond memories of working together with people and he highlighted Lorraine Sanda, strategic director for people, and Annemargaret Black, chief officer at the HSCP, whom he had great working relationships with.

Looking back, he remembers the generosity of people and said it has been a “privilege” to represent the area, helping others and receiving support in turn.

He said: “It's been a really fascinating journey, to see the changes that's happened within Clacks, certainly within my own ward, has been phenomenal and I hope that continues – that we keep that journey going forward and keep that momentum of positive change going.

“It's been 10 years of my life that I will never forget, 10 years of momentum I'd like to see carried on.”

The SNP's Clackmannanshire West Branch recently gathered to offer good wishes to Mr Sharp as well as to Tina Murphy as they retired.

Lindsey Spowage, branch convener, said: “I have always been very aware of how effective Les has been in all the years he has served as our Menstrie councillor.

“In my experience, he has always acted promptly and effectively to handle problems taken to him by local people and has gone the extra mile cheerfully to improve lives – latterly during some very testing times.”