TRIBUTES have been paid to the former mayor of Looe and long serving Cornwall councillor, Edwina Hannaford, following the news of her passing. 

Edwina was elected on to Cornwall Council in 2009 and represented Looe West and Lansallos and latterly Looe West, Pelynt, Lansallos and Lanteglos and had been on Caradon District Council.

She served on two cabinets; from 2013 to 2017 as cabinet member for environment, heritage and planning and then from 2017 to 2021 as cabinet member for climate change and neighbourhoods.

From 2021 Edwina was the Liberal Democrat group leader.

She was also part of the Looe Town Council since 2003 and had served as mayor.

After battling a lengthy illness, it was announced that Edwina sadly passed away last week. 

Since then, a number of councillors from all over the county have looked back on time spent with Edwina and have expressed their condolences, saying that “Cornwall is a better place for having her in it”.

Cllr Scott Mann, Conservative MP for North Cornwall said: “I am very sorry to learn that Cllr Edwina Hannaford has passed away. We served together on Cornwall Council for a number of years. Her passion for Cornwall and dedication to the residents in Looe came across at every meeting. My thoughts go out to Edwina’s family at this difficult time.”

Cllr Leigh Frost, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Cornwall Council, added: “Edwina was someone that nurtured, supported and guided people like me, and I will be eternally grateful for it. She stood up for everything she believed in and fought with every ounce of energy to ensure that Cornwall and its people got what it deserved. 

“She made an impact that future generations will benefit from and she touched the lives of so many people with her good humour, work ethic and passion. Cornwall is a better place for having her in it.”

Cllr Simon Cassidy, Liskeard town mayor, commented:  “Edwina was a truly amazing and inspiring lady who devoted her life to the service of others. We mourn her loss as a town and our thoughts and prayers are with her family friends and the wider community she served at this difficult time.”

Cornwall Council said that all members of the council were saddened to learn about the death of their former cabinet member. 

Cllr Pauline Giles, chairman of Cornwall Council, said: “Edwina was devoted to public service, and followed in her father’s footsteps by becoming mayor of Looe, a town she loved and fought so hard for.

“I have been lucky enough to spend time with Edwina since her diagnosis and it has been a joy to do so. I extend our condolences to her husband Simon and extended family.”

Cllr Colin Martin, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Cornwall Council has highlighted the contributions Edwina made to the county and has reflected on her ‘kindness’, ‘positivity’ and gratitude’. 

Cllr Colin Martin said: “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.”

Cllr Hilary Frank, chair of Cornwall Liberal Democrats’ council group, added: “So deeply saddened to lose my dearest colleague, Cornwall Councillor Edwina Hannaford, after a prolonged struggle against a particularly aggressive form of cancer.

“Her Lib Dem family will miss her profoundly, but her impact will continue to inspire, and her legacy of love and advocacy for the community will forever endure.

“Ed was a councillor on Looe Town Council for more than twenty years, serving as mayor of Looe and being a true champion for her residents. In recognition, she was granted freedom of Looe last year.

“She was first elected to Cornwall Council in 2009 representing Looe West and Lansallos, and won every election she stood in since then. She was the cherished and vibrant Leader of our Lib Dem group on Cornwall Council until cancer claimed her.

“As well as community, her other guiding passion was the environment, and she delivered many signature policies during her time as cabinet member for environment, heritage and planning between 2013 and 2017.

“As a ‘newbie’ to Cornwall Council when I was first elected in 2013, Edwina was the lady who supported and inspired me. A cherished role model for me as well as for countless others.

“She never hesitated to stand up for what she believed was right, and fought with every ounce of energy for Cornwall’s residents, in the same way that she battled the wicked disease that has taken her from us.

“Here in Saltash, Edwina was instrumental in delivering the art installations at Saltmill when the former rubbish tip was transformed into a public park in 2008. Think I’ll head there for a wander this afternoon to pay my respects and give thanks that I had the privilege of knowing Edwina, beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside.”

Cllr Andrew George, Liberal Democrat St Ives, explained: “We are shocked and devastated by our loss. Edwina has been an outstanding servant to Cornwall and to her communities. She’s been an inspiration and a rock to those of us who shared her commitment to the politics of kindness, decency and consideration for others. I’ve always admired Edwina’s commitment, integrity and energy. Our love is with her husband, Simon and family at this difficult time.”

Looking back on Edwina’s contributions, the Cornwall Councillor for Falmouth,  Cllr Jayne Kirkham, has said that Edwina’s passion for the environment “propelled Cornwall Council forward in that crucial area.”

Cllr Jayne Kirkham added: “The Labour Group were very sad to hear that Edwina Hannaford has died. Edwina was an exemplary councillor and public servant.

“Edwina was kind, but also a strong leader and a great example and champion for women in politics.

“We will miss her hugely. Her contribution was immeasurable. 

“We send our love and thoughts to Simon and her family.”

Cllr Kate Ewert, Labour Cornwall Councillor for Rame Peninsula and St Germans, commented: “Edwina was very supportive to me as a new councillor, and I’ll never forget the kindness she showed to me. 

“My thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.”

Cllr Jane Pascoe, Cornwall Councillor for Liskeard South and Dobwalls, said: “It is with great sadness last week, that we learnt that we have lost a friend and colleague.

“Edwina was an outstanding councillor, she worked tirelessly for her electorate and was well respected and loved by so many fellow councillors, officers and colleagues at Cornwall Council. She had given a commitment, most of her adult life, to serving the public in her role as a town, district and finally Cornwall councillor.

“I know she will be hugely missed by her family, friends and so many people in Looe and beyond throughout Cornwall. 

“She leaves us all with many fond memories and she will always be remembered for her sterling work in Cornwall.”

Cllr Armand Toms, Looe East and Deviock, said: “Edwina was born in Cornwall and lived in Looe both which she loved to the core of her being.  She got her sense of duty from her father Colin Shaw who was a town councillor and mayor of Looe.  In following him she became a town councillor, Caradon Councillor and then a Cornwall Councillor in 2009.  Then in 2022 she became the mayor of Looe emulating her father leading Looe the council in a manner her father would have been proud of.  She was especially respected by her fellow councillors and officers who she worked with.  The changes she made in planning and environment are still used by the council each and every day.  

“I worked with her as a councillor, friend and for the love of our town and Cornwall.  Our partnership linking both east and west sides of the town was strong.   We had some crazy and not so crazy ideas, a music festival, walking routes and more recently the affordable housing for local people.  A great colleague and good friend strong in debate and made considered decisions.  Her help to the residents in her ward, the work she did to make it a better place and the work she did across Cornwall was immense.

“Can I thank her husband, her niece and her close group of friends who were there supporting her during her illness.  I know she would have appreciated every second of your time and help.” 

Tony Smith, the mayor of Looe, has expressed condolences on behalf of all those from the town council, saying that they are “reflecting deeply on the sad news of Edwina’s death.” 

Cllr Tony Smith added: “We have known this day was coming for a while, as did she, Simon her husband, her family and her friends. Even so, now that her pain is ended and the journey done, we are stunned by the enormity of the loss.

 “It is hard to do full justice to Edwina’s contribution to our town. Over two decades she served as a town councillor, Cornwall Councillor and mayor of Looe, her time in post sadly cut short as her illness took hold. Just before Christmas she was awarded the Freedom of the Town, we believe the first time such an award has been made in Looe, she was very moved to receive this.

 “Her private kindness, individual support for those in need, profound care, boundless energy and tenacity serve as an example to us all. Even during the latter days of her illness, she still kept in touch with us in the council, sending out emails and on New Year’s day, sending a note round thanking all the helpers that had made the fireworks a success.  

 “We will cherish her legacy and her memory for years ahead. Thanks for everything Edwina.”