Eddie Bell, who represents the Deneside ward in Seaham on Durham County Council alongside his wife Jennifer, has been appointed to the role of its chairman for the next 12 months.
He has been vice chairman for the last year and succeeds Councillor Jan Blakey.
The former sergeant with Durham Constabulary, Coun Bell married in 1970, and have two children, Helen, a mother of four who is an RAF worker, and a son Christopher, a car transporter who also has four children.
Well known for his sporting exploits, Coun Bell, who attended St Richard’s Grammar School in Ryhope, was a Durham and Northumberland schools’ 100 metres and 400 metres athletics champion.
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He played Northern League football for Shildon, Evenwood and Ferryhill Athletic and in the Wearside League for Blackhall and Murton.
But it was at Rugby Union that Coun Bell excelled, representing England against the Rest of the World at Twickenham playing prop.
He further represented the North of England against Romania and Australia and played for Durham County over 40 times, many as captain.
His club sides were Durham City and West Hartlepool.
The chosen charities of 66-year-old during his term in office are Dementia Durham and the North East Disabilities Resource Centre.
On accepting his appointment, Coun Bell presented Coun Blakey with the former chairman’s medal, and praised the outgoing member.
Coun Bell, who is leader of Seaham Town Council, said: “Jan has been such an inspiration to me regarding so many aspects of being chairman of the council.
“If you had to pick a role model on which to learn and base the role of chairman of Durham County Council, Jan Blakey would pass that test with flying colours and I have been privileged to have been mentored by such a lady.”
Reverend Michael Dixon, who represents Aycliffe and North Middridge, has been appointed as vice chairman.
An Anglican priest, Coun Dixon, 73, studied Theology at Durham University and was ordained at Durham Cathedral.