The longest serving councillor in the borough bid the council an emotional goodbye as he prepares to undergo chemotherapy in a bid to battle cancer.

Councillor David Edwards was an elected member of Kingston Council for 35 years, taking up the position of leader of the council on two separate occasions and also serving as mayor.

The Tory was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007 and has undergone various treatments, including radiotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton.

He said the decision to step down was tough but he felt it was for the best as plans are now being made for him to receive chemotherapy at Kingston Hospital.

He said: "If you had asked me if I would be resigning a few years ago I would have said no I will be a councillor right up to my civic funeral.

"But it’s a question of doing the job properly and what my health allows me to do.

"The way Bruce (McDonald) looked at me, because I have been there even longer than he has, it was quite an emotional moment."

The 66-year-old said he feels positive about the future but his battle with cancer has been bleak at times, especially when a dose of steroids left him unable to attend council meetings or go out and see friends.

He said: "They made me put on so much weight and everything swelled to the extreme I didn’t want to go out because I looked hideous.

"I became very very tired and would have to have a nap at lunch time and another in the evening, if I didn’t I was dead on my feet by six o’clock."

Mr Edwards said his fellow councillors were very understanding and his sister-in-law and her children and grandchildren who he stayed with for some time in Surbiton were also a great support.

Having lived in New Malden all his life Mr Edwards represented Norbiton Park Ward when he was first elected in 1974, having been inspired into politics by the 1970 party conferences.

He said: "I was in a car accident and was off work and I sat and watched all of the party conferences, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative.

"The speech by Ted Heath was so inspiring that I immediately contacted the local conservative office and said I wanted to get involved."

The former Malden Manor and Beverley School pupil left the council in 1986 to travel around the world promoting Britain as a tourist destination, before returning and being elected to represent Coombe Hill Ward in 1989.

He said a highlight of his time with the council came when he was serving as mayor and had the honour of escorting the Queen around the town centre followed by a reception in the Guildhall in 1992.

The former Thomas Cook employee said his proudest achievements included seeing his proposal for a swimming pool in New Malden become a reality and that he will miss helping local residents with their problems.

Former Labour councillor Steve Mama said he had the greatest respect for Mr Edwards.

He said: “There’s some people I wouldn’t spit on but there are a Tories I have time for and David Edwards was one of those.

"We fought against each other in the past and exchanged harsh words in the council chamber but remained the best of friends. I’m sorry he’s going in these circumstances.”

The by-election in Coombe Hill Ward is expected to be held on Thursday, May 3.