IT was a little after 10am on Monday, January 23rd earlier this year when a familiar face, wearing an immaculate sharp suit, came striding up to me among the din.

"Hello, old boy, how are you keeping then? I've got some great gossip for you!"

A picture of health, I'd have never believed that this was going to be the last time I ever saw Mike Layland before his death.

It was the cutting of the ribbon at Worcester's new £10 million swimming pool in Perdiswell, with more councillors and dignitaries present than you could shake a stick at, and Mike had been invited to roll back the years.

"I'm still keeping busy, I love it - if anyone rings you and wants something doing around the city, you just let me know," he said.

I hadn't the heart to tell him that at the age of 81, and given that his city councillor duties ended five years ago, he ought to slow down.

But then that was Mike - he always wanted to help, even if at times it may well have defied logic.

To have served as a councillor for 44 years, in this age of haste and change, is quite a remarkable feat, that I was only glad to have documented in what we now know was the 'twilight period' of his life.

It was 1966 the year he was first elected, "the year England won the World Cup", he often told me, and until stepping down in May 2012 he'd only been off Worcester City Council for two years during that whole period, from 1992 to 1994.

Worcester News:

Mayor of Worcester twice, the city's last High Sheriff in 1973/74, carnival committee chairman for 27 years, Freedom of the City in 2014, all of it welcome accolades, but here's the rub - none of the titles really mattered to Mike.

What actually mattered to him was being able to make a difference, no matter how small, to the lives of ordinary Worcester people.

Tomorrow, at 2.30pm Mike's funeral will take place at Worcester Cathedral, four weeks and one day after the city lost a cherished son.

There'll be no sharp suited wise-cracker there, lightening up the mood. But he'll be watching, and wondering what all the fuss is about. That was classic Mike.