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Tributes paid to former Copeland Mayor

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TRIBUTES have been paid to William Southward, a former Mayor of Copeland, who has died aged 79.

Mr Southward represented Cleator Moor North on the borough council from 1991 to 2015, and was awarded the honour of being made an Alderman of the Borough in 2016. He was Mayor in 2004/05 and also held a seat on Cleator Moor Town Council for almost 25 years.

Mr Southward, who died in hospital on Wednesday morning surrounded by his family, was married to Sylvia for 56 years; they had three children, 14 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

The Southward family paid tribute to their husband and father. “He was a much-loved family man, and was very popular among his wide circle of friends,” they said.

“He was union man at Sellafield, a member of the Freemasons, and used to help organise the pensioners’ Christmas parties in Cleator Moor Civic Hall; he just loved being part of the community.

“He also loved being a councillor; he was proud to represent Cleator Moor and was passionate about helping people.

“When he was Mayor in 2004, he felt this was the biggest honour that could be bestowed on him. He enjoyed visiting all the different places and meeting lots of people in his mayoral year. He kept a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings; it was a fantastic year.”

Pat Graham, Chief Executive of Copeland Borough Council, said: “I am saddened to hear the news that Bill has died. He was a long-serving and valued member of the council, playing key roles in Planning and Scrutiny, and he was extremely well-respected and liked across the council.”

Raymond Gill, Leader of the Copeland Labour Party and a long-time friend of Mr Southward, said: “I have known Bill for too many years to mention. I was a guest at his wedding to Sylvia, and worked underground at Haig Pit with him in the 1960s, as well as being a fellow councillor with him in the 1990s.

“He was an able ambassador for the people he represented on Cleator Moor and served them well. Bill was a loyal Labour Group member, and his contribution to our debates was valuable. I send my sincere condolences to Sylvia and his family; they are in my thoughts and prayers.”

Helen Gilmour, the Clerk to Cleator Moor Town Council, said: “Bill made a significant contribution to Cleator Moor Town Council over many years and always served the people he represented extremely well.”

Born in the Bowthorn area of Cleator Moor, Mr Southward served his time as an apprentice at the Harrington Number 10 pit at Lowca, before moving to Walkmill Pit at Moresby, where he worked until it closed in 1962.

He then spent over 20 years working at Haig Pit until 1984, before moving to contract work at Sellafield. He was made a permanent member of staff by BNFL in 1986 and he worked for the company until he retired, aged 58, in 1998.

Mr Southward’s funeral will take place at Distington Hall Crematorium on Wednesday, November 21 at 1.15pm, followed by a gathering at the Wath Brow Hornets Club. Donations will be collected at the service for the Alzheimer’s Society.