2 Dec 2010

Cllr Linda Townley

l_townley-sml.jpgTributes have been paid to independent town councillor Linda Townley who died on the night of Tuesday 23rd November after a period of illness.

Mayor Andy Read said: "She had her own strong beliefs but would always respectfully listen to what others had to say before reaching a decision. Linda won particular respect for her work helping her constituents with individual problems. She will be a hard act to follow."

Indeed Linda was among the best councillors that a community could wish for - honest and straight forward she had a great knowledge of Stroud that she put to use in debates and discussions to create change. In particular she was prepared to stand up for the more vulnerable members of our communities.

She will be sorely missed - my thoughts are with her family.

Mrs Townley lived in Thompson Road in Uplands with her husband Chas, who is also a town councillor, and their children. She worked as a senior HomeStart co-ordinator, was a governor of Uplands Community Primary School, a trustee of Stroud Volunteer and Community Action and served as an independent councillor at Stroud District Council. Below is how the SNJ reported it this week:

FLAGS flew at half-mast at Ebley Mill this week following the death of dedicated district and town councillor Linda Townley. The committed charity worker and respected activist lost her battle with cancer and passed away at the age of 52 at her home in Uplands on Tuesday, November 23.

Linda was elected to Stroud District Council in May 2002 and joined Stroud Town Council the following year, serving the Uplands ward alongside her husband Chas.

Her disagreement with the Iraq War led to her split from Labour in 2003, after which she stood independently to re-claim her district seat in 2007. At the same time she worked as a senior co-ordinator for the support organisation Home-Start - a charity which sends out volunteers to help people struggling to cope. Following a brief spell as a royal maid, which ended abruptly in 1989 amid false newspaper speculation that she stole letters from HRH Princess Anne, Linda went on to found the press ethics charity MediaWise.

Her establishment of the cause, which still today fights for the victims of intrusive journalists, was praised this week by media commentator Roy Greenslade writing in The Guardian.

Having first met in 1991 while Chas himself represented Uplands as a Labour district councillor, the couple married a year later and moved to Kidderminster after the birth of their children Ruth and Charlie. It was here Linda truly demonstrated her community spirit by helping set up a playgroup before the Labour landslide of 1997 saw her elected to Worcestershire County Council. The lure of the Five Valleys proved too great for them however, and they returned to Stroud in 2001 where Linda expertly juggled the pressures of home life with those of her professional commitments.

"She was a wonderful lady who contributed so much of her life to others," said Chas. "She was an excellent listener and it amazed me how easily she brought up the key issues and always did her background research. These are skills that take a long time to develop but they came naturally to her."

He added that mourners are asked to wear something colourful to Linda’s funeral at Uplands Church at 12.15pm on Friday, December 3. Donations in lieu of flowers on the day will be given to the Home-Start charity.

"It is bound to be a sad occasion but it is also an opportunity to celebrate Linda’s life," added Chas. "It was not always sweetness and light for us but we had an amazing 18 years together and I was hoping for many more."

Colleagues and friends of Linda at both Stroud Town Council and Stroud District Council were quick to pay their respects following the news of her death.

SDC leader Frances Roden (Con, Painswick) said: "It was with profound sadness and shock that I heard the news of Linda's death following her illness. Linda undertook her responsibilities as a councillor with great commitment, and her contributions at the council will be missed. My thoughts go out to her husband Chas and her family at this very sad time."

Mayor of Stroud Andy Read said: "As a councillor Linda was involved in some of the big issues, including the bus station, the maternity hospital and local planning but more often or not she was involved in helping individual people. She was a great listener and she did a lot of work on behalf of some of the poorer people in the community and older people, who maybe did not have as good a voice as others. A lot of people owe her for the help she gave over the years."

Deputy Stroud mayor and district councillor John Marjoram (Green, Trinity) said: "Linda was a person of great integrity. "I knew her very well and worked with her in the town. She was such a diligent, hardworking and caring councillor. She was a real fighter for the under privileged and her integrity was incredible. She will be seriously missed by the town and district council."

The Rev Canon Barry Coker, of Stroud's St Laurence's Church, who is a former chairman of Home-Start, said: "It was only a month ago that Linda had been speaking at the charity’s annual meeting. "She was very caring and concerned for the well-being and health of the local community and her role at Home-Start was the ideal job for her because it tapped into her natural abilities and concerns. Linda had overall responsibility for the day to day running of Home-Start locally. She was involved in training volunteers, placing them with families, supervising them and keeping in touch with them. She was very enthusiastic, very hard working and very committed. She will be a hard act to replace."

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