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Loyal servant and champion of the people

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

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A stalwart of local politics who represented her community faithfully as a councillor for many decades has died at the age of 82.

Betty Perry died in the early hours on Sunday, October 28, at the care home where she had been living.

Mrs Perry will be remembered by many in the Midsomer Norton area of Somerset for her dedication to the local community and for her interest in party politics. She was one of the area's longest serving district councillors, having spent almost 40 years as a district and town councillor championing Midsomer Norton.

Born in Taunton, Mrs Perry joined the Labour Party at the age of 15 after lying about her age – telling the party she was a year older than she really was.

Her work in local government started in 1973, when Wansdyke Council was formed. Mrs Perry was elected to the council and joined the town authority at the same time. She later became the town council's first female chairman and, in 1990, became chairman of Avon County Council. She was also chairman of Bath and North East Somerset Council during 2000 and 2001.

During that time she represented the Labour Party before in later years becoming an Independent councillor on the now disbanded Norton Radstock Town Council, only giving up her political life when the council was split into three in 2010 – because of her failing health. She was married to political agent Raymond, with whom she had one daughter, Alison. She also had two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Her son-in-law, chairman of Bath and North East Somerset Council, Councillor Rob Appleyard (Labour, Westfield) paid tribute to Mrs Perry.

He said: "The whole family is immensely proud of what Betty achieved and the respect she gained from the community. She enjoyed representing the local area and always kept her focus on the ordinary person and what they would want. I never heard her be rude about anyone. She played the game and not the man and though she may not have agreed with someone's politics or views she always treated everyone with the utmost respect."

Mr Appleyard said she will be forever remembered as a woman of action rather than words.

Mrs Perry, who was an active member of the Labour Party up until her death, was a great advocate of public transport and avid cyclist. She also campaigned for youth issues and road safety.

Mr Appleyard added: "When she was younger she would frequently go up to London to take part in demonstrations and stop off in village halls for a tea with fellow party activists along the way. She grew up in a time when political activity was very much linked to social and community life. I don't think she liked the way politics has gone now and how it is run today with its hard edges."

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