Tribute to Cllr Edwina Hannaford from Cllr Colin Martin, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Cornwall Council

2 Feb 2024
Colin and Edwina

Tribute to Cllr Edwina Hannaford from Cllr Colin Martin, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Cornwall Council:

Edwina Hannaford was a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me she was the epitome of a great Councillor, working hard every day to make a positive difference to individuals, to Looe, to Cornwall and to the planet.

In 2019, Edwina became Cornwall Council's first Cabinet Member for Climate Change. Although this is a global issue, she recognised the Council’s influence on the way we build, heat and power our homes and workplaces; the way we travel; and the way we use our land. So she set about changing the culture within Cornwall Council to prioritise environmental sustainability. 

In her previous Cabinet role in charge of planning, Edwina put Cornwall on course to build more affordable homes for local people than any other Council in the country. Literally thousands of Cornish families have her to thank for the affordable roof over their heads.

But alongside these “big picture” policies, Edwina never lost focus on the importance of localism; the principle that in a democratic society, everyone should have a voice, and decisions about local communities should be taken by those communities wherever possible. When the Government scrapped Cornwall's district councils and centralised power in Truro, Edwina was instrumental in creating “Community Networks” to ensure that local voices could still be heard.

Of course Edwina was very active in her own community too, serving in countless official and unofficial roles, including Mayor of Looe. It is difficult to overstate the impact she has had on the town and its sense of community.

And on top of all this, Edwina found time to give genuine personal attention to every piece of individual casework, using her knowledge and connections to help those in need. She even held regular public surgeries to encourage more people to come forward for assistance!

Yet despite this incredible dedication to her community, Edwina never took her Council seat for granted. She delivered countless thousands of leaflets and knocked on virtually every door in her division, so when two thirds of Cornwall's Liberal Democrat councillors lost their seats in 2021, Edwina's majority actually went up! It was no surprise that the remaining councillors elected her as their group leader.

Such success might make some people arrogant, but Edwina achieved all of the above with a friendly, caring, constructive attitude, personifying her liberal values.

Isaac Newton famously said his achievements were only possible because he “stood on the shoulders of giants”. So as well as being thankful for all of Edwina's public service, I want to thank her husband Simon who has indirectly served us all by being Edwina's private tower of strength, through many highs and lows, and especially through her journey with cancer. It is a cruel disease, but over the past year she often told me how grateful she was to have had the time to make some special memories with him.

So perhaps the best way for us to remember Edwina and to honour everything she has done, is to follow her example; to do our best every day for the planet, for Cornwall, for our local community and for every individual who needs our help; to do so with the kindness and positivity which she always showed us; and to show gratitude and love to those who support us.