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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Connie Ridley ends 34 years on Brampton parish council

A woman who has devoted decades to helping her community is retiring from public office.

Connie Ridley photo
Connie Ridley

Connie Ridley has been a volunteer member of Brampton parish council for 34 years – with two spells as the group’s chairwoman.

She was the only female parish councillor at the time she joined and has been involved in a string of major schemes affecting the town.

But after undergoing an operation Mrs Ridley, 74, has decided the time has come for her to step down.

“It was a hard decision. It took me about two weeks to decide but I had been thinking about it before the operation,” she said.

“I had my operation and I’m not improving as quickly as I would like. I thought now is the time to give up. It’s not fair to other councillors.

“I’ve nothing more to contribute. I’ve done what I wanted to do.”

Mrs Ridley moved to Brampton from Carlisle 54 years ago when she married husband John.

Although she did a lot of voluntary work even in those early days she concentrated on bringing up her family.

Then she took a position on the parish council – although she was initially unsure whether it was the right move for her.

“The first year I was on, I thought what am I doing here? I found it quite difficult as I wasn’t as educated as the rest and I was the only woman. I felt a little bit out of my depth,” Mrs Ridley said.

“I was one for doing things and trying to make a difference and that was just the way I worked.

“Eventually I got to enjoy it once you get around the red tape and other things you have to do.

“It seems much more complicated now.”

Mrs Ridley’s time on the council has seen her twice serve as chairwoman – one for an eight-year spell, the last stint for a year, stepping down as its figurehead, although staying on as a councillor, in January.

As chairwoman, her biggest achievement was successfully fighting for the A69 bypass, which opened in 1991.

The switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights were also always a highlight for her.

She said: “I always made the ginger wine. This will have been the first year without any as I wouldn’t give anyone the recipe.”

She added: “On the whole I’ve really enjoyed it and I hope I’ve made a difference over the years.

“I’ll miss going to the meetings, and meeting people and talking to them.”

Mrs Ridley has eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Current parish council chairman David Moorat was the man who succeeded Mrs Ridley after her second spell in the chair and regards her as a difficult act to follow.

He wished her well in retirement, adding: “I think she’s quite famous in Brampton.

“She has certainly done her duty for the people of Brampton.

“It’s very sad that she has had to resign because of ill health. I’m very sorry to lose her and I wish her well.”



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