He has dedicated his life to Falmouth and been mayor more times than anyone else in the town's history. Now, Geoffrey Evans has finally been recognised by the Queen for his service to the community lasting almost half a century.

Mr Evans has been made an MBE in the New Year's Honours List, having been a town councillor for 45 years and spending around a third of that time as mayor.

The award recognises his "services to local government and services to the community of Falmouth."

Mr Evans, who is in his 70s, admitted he was "quite surprised" upon receiving the letter from the palace, adding: "It took a while to sink in. Then I started to shake a bit.

"I'm very proud of Falmouth - whenever I see the name Falmouth anywhere I'm proud."

Mr Evans was born in the town and worked at the docks for 49 years, in the pump room, in engineering and docking ships.

In addition to his work on the town council, he has also been a Cornwall councillor since 1976 and over a 35 year period was governor at King Charles, Marlborough and Beacon (subsequently Falmouth Primary) schools, taking the role of chairman for each of them during that time.

Among his many voluntary and charity roles he is also president of Falmouth and District Allotments and Gardens Society, chairman of the Theydon Trust overseeing retirement home sand sheltered housing, and president of Falmouth Amateur Operatic Society (now Falmouth Theatre Company).

Perhaps one of his greatest achievements has been the formation of Falmouth Art Gallery, which may never have become a reality had it not been for his initial suggestion.

It was in the early 1970s, that Mr Evans suggested to the then-clerk that a room could be found for all the paintings adorning the council chamber walls, giving the public access to artwork that they would not otherwise get to see. Thanks to the formation of the district councils at that time, a room had become vacant and this became the start of the art gallery as it is today, which Mr Evans opened in 1978 with the chairman of Cornwall Council.

When Mr Evans collects his title later this year it will be something of a reunion with the Queen, having welcomed her to Falmouth on a number of occasions while as mayor - an office he has held during her silver, golden and diamond jubilees.

"I've met her a few times over the period. She always seemed to come to Falmouth when I was the mayor," he recalled.

The cards and letters of approval have been quick to flood in after the news broke.

Falmouth's mayor Grenville Chappell told the Packet: "I'm absolutely delighted. I can't think of anyone in Falmouth who deserves it more.

"Over 40 years' service to the town and county - that really needed recognition and I think it's probably the best announcement I've heard in the New Year's Honours."

Town clerk Mark Williams described it as "just recognition" for Mr Evans' service over the years, adding: "There's been a lot of change in the sector and council in that time and he's often been a steadying influence in all that."