When Michael Buckley was called to the bar it was illegal to be gay and the death penalty was still handed to the country’s worst offenders.
Now, half a century after he qualified as a solicitor, and after 18 years as a judge at Blackpool County Court, the 71-year-old has taken retirement.
But not before judges and lawyers from across the area paid tribute to District Judge Buckley’s five decades of work, holding a valedictory at Blackpool County Court.
A valedictory – which pays glowing tribute to a judge’s career – is usually reserved for circuit and high court judges .
And Mr Buckley says he has been left “humbled” and “overwhelmed” by the tributes .
Mr Buckley, who went to Arnold School before reading law at Oxford University, said: “It was the first time at Blackpool that they chose to do this for me.
“I have been humbled and overwhelmed by the numerous accolades from judicial colleagues and members of the legal profession.
“It has been an honour and privilege to serve the people of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, for whom, having lived here all my life, I have a great affection and admiration.
“I am only too well aware of the many problems, both social and economic, which this region, in common with many seaside resorts, has sustained, and I’ve seen many changes.”
As well as the valedictory, he was also chosen as guest speaker at an annual law dinner.
Mr Buckley, who lives in Poulton, told of how his decades of work affected his own everyday life.
He said: “A district judge deals with the terrible things that affect ordinary individuals, people getting into trouble with mortgages and banks or divorces. We do work for ordinary people who have fallen on hard times.
“I remember going round B&Q one day and a man lunged towards me and my wife. I wondered what was coming, and he said ‘I want to shake your hand - you stopped the bank from taking my house from me’.
“It could have gone either way that one.”