SANDERSTEAD'S most prominent community member is handing over the baton of leadership to allow the village residents' association a new lease of life and bring it into the modern age.
Dennis Eldridge, who has been chairman of the Sanderstead Residents' Association for 13 years, is passing over the position at the age of 86 to Dennis King who aims to take the group in a new direction.
"I know it's another Dennis, but we are not mirror images," said Mr Eldridge.
"We really need new ideas and new people. We've had some problems with not enough people joining the group and becoming involved in the community – we were really behind the times, it's a different world now.
"We need to change the whole system of collecting subscriptions and distributing the magazine – it's all done by post and is very expensive.
"Dennis King is a deep thinker and will have many fresh ideas to promote.
"I have loved the whole period of being chairman. I'm proud of getting the subscriptions sorted and ensuring money came in regularly.
"We used to keep back around £50,000 just in case there was a lawsuit with planning but this is all going to change now."
The new Dennis, Mr King, 79, is currently the association's vice-chairman and will take over the lead role if members agree at an annual meeting on April 25.
Mr King has pledged to turn the association into a more proactive group, which can provide for the community.
"I think we were a reactive organisation in the past, and very focused on planning.
"There seemed to be a lot of money kept back which we realised we should use to help the community. This means helping out people who want to start clubs, especially youth clubs, and encouraging residents to join the group.
"It's all about investing in the community – we really want more members to make this possible. We have 900 at the moment."
The residents' association has recently given money to the Croham Hurst woods, funded the replacement of the plaques from the Sanderstead War Memorial which were stolen last year, and paid for the Christmas lights.
One of the last things Mr Eldridge organised before standing down was the donation of £250 to local wildlife expert, Joy Gadsby, who has lived in Sanderstead for all of her 90-odd years.
The tree, a Bosnian pine, was planted in the Wettern Tree Garden on March 26 – chosen in recognition of the garden's new tree officer who said the spruce used to grow in his family home back in Italy.