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Stalwart Somerset district councillors receive Alderman titles

WHEN Somerset Council was created on April 1 last year, the former district councils were disbanded.

Taunton Deane Borough Council, West Somerset Council, South Somerset District Council and Mendip District Council ceased to be, in an instant.

However, the work of some notable names in the history of those organisations has been recognised, with a number of them honoured with the title of Aldermen.

A ceremony in Taunton this week saw the title handed to seven former members of district councils by current chair of Somerset Council, Councillor Mike Best.

“The combined years of service by our Aldermen is truly remarkable, as are the people who accepted the honour when it was bestowed by their respective councils,” he said.

“Those councils may now be in the past but their achievements are very much still with us and provided the foundation for Somerset Council.

“I am delighted to be able to meet these remarkable people, pay tribute to them for their service and bring them all together into the Somerset Council organisation.”

Now an honourary title approved by sitting councillors in recognition of the recipient’s public service, the role of an Alderman goes back centuries.

Literally meaning ‘elder person’, the Aldermen formed a high committee in many shires.

Those receiving awards from Somerset Council were:

  • Somerset County Council:

John Edney, who was a county councillor for Cannington between 2001 and 2017, serving as chair and chair of the Standards Committee.
He was previously honoured with the title of Honorary Alderman in February 2018.

  • West Somerset Council:

Tim Taylor, who was leader of the council for five years from 2010 to 2015 and was made an Honorary Alderman in September 2016. His father-in-law, Dennis Merson, was also previously honoured with the title of Honorary Alderman.

Eddie May served on West Somerset Council, representing the Williton Ward, for 24 years and was chair of the council for three years between 2008 and 2011.
He was made an Honorary Alderman in September 2016 at a joint ceremony with Tim Taylor and Tony Knight, also from West Somerset.

Tony Knight served on the council, representing the Watchet Ward, for 12 years and was chair of Planning Committee for seven years.

  • South Somerset District Council:

Pat Martin was a district councillor for Yeovil Ward in 2003 and vice-chair of the Area South Committee for four years.

She was consort to Ian Martin, chair of South Somerset District Council, between 2007 and 2011. Elected to Yeovil Town Council in 1987, she stepped down in 2011. She was also deputy mayor of Yeovil from 1993 to 1995 and mayor between 1995 and 1997 and was honoured with the title of Honorary Alderman in September 2011.

Patrick Palmer represented the Martock ward as a parish councillor in 1967. He became an independent councillor on Yeovil District Council in 1974. Patrick was also chair of the Area North Committee from 2003 to 2013 and was honoured with the title of Honorary Alderman in May 2018.

Ruth Kendall was elected as a district councillor for the Yeovil Preston Ward in 1987, serving for 24 years. She was an active member of many committees, including Health, Leisure & Arts, and the Personnel sub-Committee.
She was elected to the Yeovil Town Council in 1987 until 2003 and served as deputy mayor between 2002 and 2003.
Ruth was honoured with the title of Honorary Alderman in September 2011.
She was unable to attend the event so Cllr Best plans to make a personal visit to present her with the award and certificate.

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