A sad loss to our community but an inspiration for a New Year, says MP Alistair Burt

Alistair Burt
Alistair Burt

The loss of the unbelievably brave councillor Carole Ellis this week leaves a big hole in our local community, and a heartbreaking one for Eddie and her family, of whom we are all thinking at such a time.

The terms ‘larger than life’ and ‘personality’ are given away rather too often these days, but no one who knew her, and there were thousands, would say anything other than that the terms fitted her perfectly. She worked incredibly hard for all the causes in which she was interested, and for her life in politics. She spoke out without much fear or favour-and with an honesty and truth which people of any political persuasion find the most important quality. That she will be genuinely mourned by those of all parties on Bedford Borough Council who worked with her for so long will be its own eloquent tribute.

Carole Ellis with  Nelson Mandela during his visit to Bedford  in 2000.

Carole Ellis with Nelson Mandela during his visit to Bedford in 2000.

For a local politician she had an encounter denied even this former Minister of the Crown, private time with Nelson Mandela, placing her in select company indeed. But we all know that he would one day realise that it was him who had enjoyed the greater privilege of time with Carole!

That she continued working for her constituents – of whom she spoke and thought so very much- right through her illness astonished me. That she never in my hearing ever complained about the cruel fate which nature had given her astonished and humbled me even more.

She will be much missed.

We think about home and community greatly at this time of year, when time with those we love is at a premium. Carole, as other local representatives, gave much family time away to others in the course of her life and sacrifice to her community - time they will never have back. If you want to make a New Year’s resolution, and if you recall Carole and what she has done for you, please make 2015 the year you found some way of working anew for our community, for volunteering for something. There’s lots out there- let’s be proud to say, ‘Carole sent me’.