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Tributes to paid to former Brentwood Councillor Karen Chilvers

The world has lost another brilliant liberal. Former Brentwood Lib Dem Councillor and Parliamentary candidate Karen Chilvers died on Wednesday at just 51 years old. She had a stroke at the end of July and subsequent complications were just too much for her body to deal with.

We never met in real life, but for over a decade she has been a cheerful, supportive, friendly presence on Facebook and I loved reading about her adventures with her dogs Louis, Bailey and Tiffany.

Karen had had many health issues over the years and she would often talk about her frustrations about trying to get round an inaccessible world.

Karen was a much-loved Councillor in Brentwood between 2007 and 2021. I remember how devastated she was when she lost her seat in 2011, but she won it back the following year.

Her colleague David Kendall paid tribute to her in The Echo

Karen was a driving force of energy in the Brentwood Liberal Democrats over many years and encouraged a number of people to stand for the Council and helped to get them elected.

She was a champion for many vulnerable people in our community particularly on disability and equality issues.

She also helped many people on planning, housing and environmental matters.

“She led the campaign with residents to stop the housing development in Honeypot Lane and was a key figure in the campaign to stop “Go Ape” from changing the face of Thorndon Country Park.

Back in 2012, she appeared on ITV quiz show The Chase, as I wrote here:

Karen, pictured here with her dog Louis, was incredibly calm and cool as she answered the quick-fire questions. I was very impressed with her performance. She has written about her experience here.

She wrote for us back in 2013 when the BBC discovered her dog Bailey’s Twitter account. For Karen, her beloved dogs helped her become closer to her constituents. Being an approachable councillor was incredibly important to her.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

The BBC, Twitter, Bailey and me

bailey july 2013I was  elected to Brentwood Council in 2007 with people knowing I was an animal lover and I always wanted to be the most approachable of councillors, so my animals have always featured on my website and in my work because I want them to know I am “one of them” and not a remote career politician.  I’ve always picked up casework when walking Louis and his predecessors around the ward.

My dog Louis lives with my mum in my Brentwood West ward and has, since 2012 when I got my seat back after a year’s hiatus, been “Brentwoof West Dog” and comes with me on ward walks and often on campaigns and casework visits.  (In the usual democratic ways of the party, we actually voted him in as Brentwoof West dog at a ward meeting!

But Bailey, well I rescued him from certain death!

Hornchurch Animal Rescue put him on Facebook on 27th March – he had been picked up as a matted, dirty stray with an eye, urine and skin infection was old and underweight and was due to be put to sleep immediately.  They stepped in and had him signed over to them and I picked him up at 10pm that night from the dog warden.  Couldn’t quite believe I had done it as I walked out of a stranger’s house on a cold dark London night with a smelly Gollum like creature under my arm!

I was supposed to keep him over Easter whilst he was assessed – to be honest we didn’t expect him to make it to the weekend as he was in such a state.  But, he stayed, the cats and Louis grew used to him and we fell in love!

I have nursed him back to a healthy old dog – he’s about 9 years old and is on tablets for the rest of his life for Cushing’s Disease but you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with him.  he’s lively, funny, cheeky and loving – good with kids, cats, dogs and footballs!

He started tweeting for fun, but also to highlight the need for fosterers and adopters for pound dogs who face death through no fault of their own and older rescue dogs and cats that can sometimes be overlooked.  He also tries to help find lost dogs and cats, tweets about animal welfare issues and general dog stuff.  the only subject “off limits” is politics – yes he’ll support us and put a poster up but he’s not a political animal…he’s come here for his retirement.  His job really is to give me a cuddle after campaigning and late meetings!

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Liberal Democrat Councillor Karen Chilvers on ITV’s The Chase

karenchilversBrentwood Liberal Democrat Councillor Karen Chilvers appeared on ITV quiz show The Chase last night.

She took on The Barrister, Sean Wallace in a showdown that was much more tense than I had expected.  I had never watched the show before and I found it quite compelling.

The idea of the game is that each contestant answers as many questions as possible in a minute to earn £1000 per correct answer. At the end of the minute, they gamble that amount of money in a play off against The Chaser, any one …

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