David Newbigging, the chairman of Cancer Research UK, has received a special award in recognition of his work for the charity.

Mr Newbigging, who lives at Fyfield and is a former High Sheriff of Wiltshire, has been made a Cancer Research UK Honorary Fellow at a ceremony in London. The honour came as a surprise to the 76-year-old former industry chief as he was presiding over the CRUK’s Flame of Hope Award ceremony held annually to salute remarkable fundraising and volunteering efforts of people from all walks of life when the spotlight was turned on him.

The audience at the Russell Hotel heard how Mr Newbigging, who was also the first chairman of the Community Foundation, had taken Cancer Research UK from strength to strength since taking over the chairman’s role in 2004.

Chief executive Harpal Kumar said: “We have chosen to award David with an Honorary Fellowship to recognise the immense contribution he has made to Cancer Research UK.”

Mr Kumar said that under Mr Newbigging’s chairmanship CRUK continued to make an enormous impact on the number of people surviving cancer.

Mr Newbigging, who is married to Carolyn and has three children and four grandchildren, said: “I was completely taken aback when the surprise was sprung on me at the Flame of Hope Award ceremony.

“We have a wonderful group of volunteers, staff and donors throughout the UK without whose efforts Cancer Research UK simply could not have made such progress.”