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'Champion of people': Tributes paid to Lady Hooson

By Dominic Robertson | Llanidloes | Politics | Published:

Tributes have been paid to Lady Shirley Hooson, described as one of Montgomeryshire's "greatest ever champions" and a key political figure in the county.

Lady Shirley Hooson

Lady Hooson, of Llanidloes, died aged 91, and figures from across the political spectrum have lined up to pay tribute to the former vice chairman of Montgomeryshire District Council.

Lady Hooson, who had also served as mayor of her home town, was the wife of former Montgomeryshire Liberal MP Lord Emlyn Hooson.

Mr Hooson served as MP for the constituency from 1962 until 1979. In his career as a barrister he also represented Ian Brady, one of the Moors murderers, along with Myra Hindley at trial.

Current Montgomeryshire MP and long-time friend of Lady Hooson, Glyn Davies, said she was a woman who gave her life to Llanidloes and Montgomeryshire.

He said: "I first met Shirley Hooson when we were both elected to Montgomeryshire District Council over 40 years ago. She was as determinedly ‘Llanidloes’ as I was determinedly Berriew’, which meant it took a while for us to get used to each other.

"When I became chairman, Shirley became my vice chairman. Our stubbornness meant we disagreed sometimes, but soon became good friends, and remained so until she died. To me she was like family.

Memories

“Lady Hooson, and her great late husband Emlyn, were wonderful people who gave their lives to Llanidloes and Montgomeryshire. I will always treasure memories of joining her in visiting Emlyn towards the end of his life.

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"She was a key support to him throughout his hugely successful political career. Over the last three years, after she had lost her ability to speak, I valued meeting her more than ever. We simply did not need words to communicate.

“Llanidloes and Montgomeryshire has lost one of its greatest ever champions.”

Baron Alex Carlile, who was Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire from 1983 to 1997, said: "I knew Lady Hooson for about 50 years. She was an extraordinary public figure as councillor, mayor and part of Montgomeryshire.

"She was a huge support for her husband, the late Lord Hooson QC. She helped him create the barristers chambers in Chester, of which I later became a member.

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"She loved her town of Llanidloes and demonstrated that in many actions and statements over the years.

"When she had views she expressed them forcefully and was always willing to challenge conventional authority. She had a very, very wide circle of loyal friends. She dealt with her long final illness with great dignity.

"She is one of Montgomeryshire's major figures of the last 90 years and will be sorely missed."

Lembit Opik, also a former Montgomeryshire Liberal Democrat MP, said: "Lady Hooson was the rock on which Lord Hooson's life was built. He loved her absolutely and she was the power behind Emlyn. I have no doubt that when he passed on that would have been a devastating blow.

"She was the perfect compliment to Emlyn's parliamentary and legal career and she chose her battles and public service and did both with great dignity and intelligence.

"She always put the public first and she could have been an MP if she had chosen to but she chose a different path."

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