Liberal Democrat Voice Stars of 2015 Part 2

We wanted to honour those Liberal Democrats that our readers felt were true stars of 2015, which has been one of the toughest years in our party’s history. Over the past few days, we have sought out  nominations and now have a rather impressive list that we’ll be publishing in instalments during this week. Here is the second part. Part 1 is here. Their names come with the comments made about the contribution they have made. Some are parliamentarians, some are councillors, most are grassroots activists. Let’s celebrate them and the many others who are fighting fto keep that Liberal Democrat flame alive. These are our Liberal Democrat stars of 2015.

Kris Castle

She gave up her London job to go at the Yeovil South Ward like a PPC. Lib Dem but unworked for perhaps 8 years, she came a close fourth when the tsunami came in, with the largest losing vote in the region. She also worked three other wards keeping South Somerset DC under LD leadership (NOC) for the 34th year. Kris also initiated work to transform the Constituency after losing our MP. Whilst this is not a tale of unmitigated success, it is one of determination and care.

Pete Dollimore

For his ceaseless efforts on behalf of London Lib Dems, one of those backstage heroes who do the bulk of the work in so many organisations, without ever being recognised.

Pete has supported me so much over the years offering advice and support. I know many others would say the same too.

All the staff who lost their jobs after the election

I nominate the staff who lost their jobs together with their supportive families, along with all those constituency activists everywhere who didn’t deserve the results they got.

Keith Edkins

For delivering thousands of leaflets in Cambridge for David Howarth and Julian Huppert.

William Dyer

For heading straight back into the fray after the General Election

Stephanie Ouzman

For being an outstanding constituency HQ boss in Oxford West and Abingdon

Neil Fawcett

For being the voice of sanity on numerous occasions.

Daisy Benson

For her enthusiasm and work to encourage and engage the Lib Dem Newbies

Emma Price

Emma works in the Conference Office in LDHQ and  helped me with conference mobility issues allowing me to attend 2 weeks after major surgery. She was fabulous.

Ben Chapelard

For the Tunbridge Wells cinema site campaign which he undertook to take the lead using his own initiative. It became one of our most successful campaigns of the year.

Naomi Smith

Aside from doing a great job for SLF, which I realise is different from the party, obviously, Naomi has through this motivated and enthused an awful lot of members who may have left the party in what has been a very difficult time, as well as her efforts to give the party some credibility post May 2015.

Mary Reid

Mary is responsible for organising SLF’s  successful conference which again motivates and enthuses an awful lot of activists, as well as her sterling work in Kingston and for the wider community and on party committees, ie FCC.

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This entry was posted in LDV Awards and Op-eds.


  • Thomas Shakespeare 30th Dec '15 - 11:59am

    Of course all of these people have done a tremendous amount for the party and it is only right that we thank them. I’d like to give special mention to Daisy, who has been an inspiration to me as a new member, and to all the staff who lost their jobs after the election. It’s so sad that these individuals were left without a job because of political forces beyond their control.

  • I would nominate Ray Russell of Chesterfield. He joined in the 1970 General Election and has worked tirelessly for the next 45 years. Good on policy but would always sweat the details of campaigning too rather than just sit and talk. Ray is one of the pretty small band who can say they lead a majority controlled LD Council since WW2 -which he did extremely well for 8 years from 2003 until the national catastrophe put Labour back in charge. Despite that he continued to work hard and was absolutely central to Chesterfield holding, despite everything, 82% of its Council seats in May 2015.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Dec '15 - 1:29pm

    The Voice | Wed 30th December 2015 – 11:55 am Ben Chapelard’s initiative included a lot of determination and persistence. The campaign had started before he was a borough councillor. A key factor was demonstrating to a pessimistic and often cynical local population that something (anything?) could be achieved in the face of a conservative Conservative majority council in Tunbridge Wells. Our 2015 PPC, who works for the party, had arranged cover from local ITV, which resulted in Ben being interviewed, hatless, in the pouring rain. Some of the people who helped on the street stall were not members of the party, but supported us on this issue..
    There was a brief moment of exultation from those in the population who stopped at the street stall, but they soon moved on to saying “What next?” The local party does not have enough money to bid for the site ourselves. That would have required something of the order of £10 million and further funds for development.
    Tunbridge Wells has an influential Civic Society. The local MP, Greg Clark, has been loosening the planning rules. The site of the former cinema is sloping and opposite the Town Hall, so a building of maybe five floors would be desirable providing mainly housing with small shops at ground level. Although the site is a short walk from a mainline railway station the planning rules still require adequate off-street car parking. According to a member of an architectural practice canvassed in a bye-election the need was for two underground floors. It had been widely reported that there was a railway tunnel under the site, which was inaccurate, but widely believed by people who wanted a single, simple reason to say NO. They should be referred to the essay about “The Abominable NO Man”. It is simpler for organisation man to say no, but good ideas can be delayed or suppressed with consequent lack of financial and social performance.

  • Thank you!

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Dec '15 - 7:21pm

    I’m not a member, but I nominate the rest of the LDV team too of course. I’d probably highlight Joe Otten for probably being the most similar to me ideology wise and I’d also like to nominate Danny Alexander for being a bit of an unsung hero. Yes, he lost his seat, but I still think he has a big part to play in the future of the party and a lot don’t talk about him much nowadays. A return of Nick Clegg to the front bench would also be good.

  • Neil Woollcott 30th Dec '15 - 9:38pm

    With the sad passing of Bob Wheatley today, I nominate this giant of Waltham Forest politics. During his time in politics, Bob turned 3 separate safe Labour seats yellow. A feat very few other politicians to this day has achieved.

    Bob entered Liberal politics in Walthamstow in the 1970s, a decade where liberal politics were not at their height. But he hardworking nature dug in and he got on with electing Liberals the Liberal Democrats to the council.

    Bob was first elected councillor in a by-election in 1988 to represent Higham Hill Ward in Walthamstow. He was one of the first (if not first in London) councillors elected following the formal merger of the SDP and Liberal parties. He retained the seat in 1990 and 1994, before deciding to fight he home ward of High Street Ward in 1998. He won one of the 3 seats, but was defeated 4 years later. When a by-election was called for neighbouring William Morris ward, Bob was chosen and he defeated the Labour candidate to turn the ward yellow, successfully defending it in 2006. In the tide that turned against so many Lib Dems in 2010, Bob lost the seat.

    In 1996/1997 Bob was chosen to be mayor of Waltham Forest and thus becoming the first Liberal Democrat mayor of the borough. Reviewing press cuttings of his mayoral year this afternoon, it reminded me how energetically he tackled he year and whether ever he went he celebrated the unsung heroes and had a lot of fun. I was privileged to be invited to a thank you at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall where he was determined that residents of Waltham Forest who volunteered, should be thanked.

  • Neil Woollcott 30th Dec '15 - 9:38pm

    Bob was a fighter of the people. He was Mr Community Politics. Not only would he put it on paper and stick it through the door, he would meet hundreds, if not thousands, of residents to help in in weekly surgeries and be at the Town Hall every day to write to council officers on behalf of his constituents. If one thing that angered Bob, it was that the simple things that councils should do, but couldn’t do right.

    Bob was not one for sitting around and if you were there to help, whether to deliver leaflets or knock in doors he would soon have you kicked out the door to get on with the task. Time was not for wasting.

    He was respected across the political divide. But all sides knew he was a fighter and that he was a match for any opponent.

    What made Bob stand out from the crowd was his humbles beginnings. Abandoned by his mother, brought up as a Banardo’s child, served in the merchant navy during the war, a drunk who fell in love with Walthamstow and moved to the area to turn his life a round. A window cleaner who was known around the borough. A more detail account of his life can be found

    Bob was a giant and deserves a place on this year’s Roll of Honour. RIP Bob.

  • I would nominate Maajid Nawaz candidate in Hampstead & Kilburn for often making the only measured and rational contribution in the public debate on religious extremism.

  • @Rob
    Agree with that – and he must have a hide like a rhinoceros to endure the hatred he’s subjected to by an unholy alliance of devout religionists (of various faiths) and the “regressive left”.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Jan '16 - 12:41pm

    Rob 31st Dec ’15 – 8:33am ” … nominate Maajid Nawaz candidate in Hampstead & Kilburn … ” . Why does the BBC not describe him as such when he is on Question Time? His preference, or theirs?

  • Richard Underhill 15th Dec '18 - 8:26pm

    The cinema site in Tunbridge Wells has been cleared and covered with broken bricks. A new cinema cannot legally be built precisely where the previous cinema was, but the site is big enough for a small modern cinema, which could well be popular locally.

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