LEADING historian Ken Spencer has been voted Lancashire's volunteer of the year.

The 84-year-old won the award for clocking up more than four decades helping out of for nothing at the town’s central library.

Author Ken was the winner in Lancashire County Council's staff awards scheme, the Pride Awards, for giving up more than 15 hours a week of his free time.

He has published and donated almost 200 books and leaflets on the history of the town and a photographic collection charting the changing face of Burnley over the years.

Ken, who is from the town, was nominated for the award by the staff at Burnley library, who compiled a 23-page booklet of heartfelt testimonials.

He said: "Recipients of prizes like the Oscars often say that they were astonished, which is sometimes hard to believe.

“In my case with the Pride Award it is absolutely true.

"I have never seen myself as a volunteer, but simply as a local historian helping readers and staff wherever I could.

"I treasure the book of testimonials compiled for my nomination. It means more to me than a royal honour."

Burnley West and Padiham county councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for cultural services, said: "Through the Pride Awards, we publicly thank our willing volunteers who tirelessly do a brilliant job to improve people's lives.

"The library staff tell me that Ken never misses an opportunity to help out, supporting staff and library users alike.

“He is passionate about the ethos of libraries and has used his unrivalled knowledge of the town to help thousands of people, ensuring that there is a connection between local people and their past."

Julie Dawson, one of his nominators at Burnley Library, added: “Ken represents the true meaning of service: to give without any thought of reward; whilst always exuding grace and good manners reminiscent of a bygone era.

"By giving tirelessly to help staff and customers, he shows the true spirit of community in our town."

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “This is an absolutely well-deserved award to a lovely and well-mannered man who has done so much for the town and the study of its history.”