A DEDICATED Labour party activist from Bewdley has been given a prestigious award for more than half a century of service.

Patricia Palmer was handed the Labour Merit Award from leader Jeremy Corbyn and deputy Tom Watson at the party’s conference last month.

The 85-year-old trade unionist, who is partially sighted, has been part of the Wyre Forest Constituency Labour group for more than 50 years.

She represented Wribbenhall on Bewdley Town Council from 1985 where she served for 16 years having won four elections.

Patricia was also the civic leader of the town in 1991 when she was elected Mayor - Labour’s first ever in Bewdley.

During her year in office, she built up the twinning links with Fort Mahon Plage in France and Velmar in Germany.

Patricia was heavily involved with Worcestershire’s County Association of Local Councils, as well as its national body.

She campaigned to get a Citizen’s Advice Bureau opened in Bewdley and served as a Governor of Wribbenhall Middle School for 17 years between 1990 and 2007.

Sadly, her beloved husband Frank - who campaigned with her - passed away earlier this year.

But, as well as her dedication to Bewdley and Labour, party colleagues also praised her remarkable life away from politics.

At the end of the Second World War she went to France alone to travel and work, where she became fluent in the language and developed a love for walking.

Once back in the UK, she secured herself a job as an assistant to best-selling author Barbara Taylor Bradford before becoming a secondary school language teacher.

Stephen Brown, from Wyre Forest Labour Group, said: “Patricia’s story is something else, and portrays the great strength of character that has become one of her trademarks in her own community.

“In 1991, Patricia became the first Labour Councillor to be elected Bewdley Mayor by her fellow town councillors.

“This was especially significant because Labour was a minority on the council and her election reflected the esteem in which she was, and still is held, even by her political rivals!

“Patricia has a ‘can do’ attitude and her efforts in her community were equally replicated privately in her activities such as her coast to coast walks which she loved, and amazingly in one particular drive through the frozen lands of Norway to the Arctic Circle in a Morris Minor, of all things.

“These days, Patricia, can no longer edit or knock into shape the Labour election leaflets which her husband Frank, also a Labour Party activist, used to draft.

“Sadly, it’s been a tragic year for Patricia as her husband died in the summer and is deeply missed.

“The Merit Award however can be seen as a way of not only recognising her achievements but those of her husband Frank too, as they were very much a team.

“Patricia nevertheless continues to be an active member of Bewdley Branch Labour Party and is a delegate to the General Committee of Wyre Forest Constituency Labour Party.

“The local Party is immensely proud of Patricia and strongly values her continuing contributions to discussions and local policy making.”