When Margaret Jackson first agreed to put her name forward as a town council election candidate it was simply to make up numbers following a request from the town’s Conservative party.

“I was quite happy to be a paper candidate. Then, when I was at the count I began to think, ‘Blow me, I’m going to get in’,” said Mrs Jackson.

And sure enough, she won a seat, making her, aged 35, the youngest ever Cockermouth town councillor.

Thirty-three years later Mrs Jackson, who was born and bred in Cockermouth, has no regrets – but has decided to step down.

“It’s been wonderful, there have been so many special times. I have been able to do something for my town and that’s what has driven me,” she said.

She is standing down at the end of this month from her seat on the town council and also Allerdale council, where she served for a total of 21 years.

She is moving to Leyland to be nearer her two daughters and her grandsons.

Mrs Jackson, 67, has twice been Mayor of Cockermouth, first in 1989-90 and again in 2006-7. She has served on Allerdale council’s executive and was deputy leader under the Alliance administration under then leader Joe Milburn.

She is delighted to have been involved with many memorable events over the decades. “The twinning with Marvejols started the year after I was elected on to the town council and I feel we have grown together,” she said.

“I have been there many times. Years ago a young girl, Sylvie, 13, came to stay with us. Years on she lives in London and we all still see her. I call her my French daughter.

“It was such a privilege to be mayor. To represent your town and meet so many people is wonderful.”

She attended a Buckingham Palace garden party and met the Queen at the opening of the Derwent Pencil factory at Lillyhall.

She is proud to have been part of the multi-agency group set up to improve shop fronts following the 2009 floods. She was also on the Main Street steering group and a member of the partnership created to improve Market Place.

All this was done alongside family life and running a sewing business.

“I’m so thankful to my family because I could not have done it without their support,” she said. “I’m grateful for the support of so many people and all those who voted for me over the years. It’s been an honour.

From August 1, voters will have 14 days to request a by-election. Ten electors would have to contact Allerdale council’s returning officer.