Councillor Karen Walker has been named as the new Chair of Bath & North East Somerset Council, after spending the last year as Vice-Chair, supporting the outgoing Chair, Councillor Cherry Beath.
Councillor Walker has represented the Peasedown St John ward since 2015 and has been a hard-working campaigner and parish councillor in Peasedown since 2008.
As the Chair, she has chosen Dorothy House and Forces Online as her official charities for the year.
Councillor Walker said: “I’m hugely honoured to have been elected to this position, particularly in the year that we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first women being able to vote here in the United Kingdom.
“If you’d told me ten years ago that one day I would not only become a Bath & North East Somerset councillor, but the Chair of the council, I wouldn’t have believed it.
“Since I first started to get involved in my own community all those years ago, I’ve passionately believed in ensuring everyone has the same opportunities, and the same chances in life. It’s because of this that my theme for the year will be ‘inclusion for all, living life to the full.’
“Inclusion for all; because all people, regardless of their gender, faith or nationality, are welcome here in Bath and North East Somerset, and living life to the full because people of all ages should feel they can get involved with their local communities and activities.”
As the Vice-Chair, Councillor Walker represented the council at 50 engagements over the last year.
She added: “I am hoping to use my position as chair to highlight the work of Dorothy House, which has an outreach centre in Peasedown St John.
“I’ll be supporting the work the charity is doing with the RUH to care for those living with Motor Neurone Disease.
“The other charity is Forces Online, which has recently opened a new shop and support centre for veterans in Midsomer Norton.”
Councillor Walker is one of the creators of the village’s Party in the Park festival. Thanks to her enthusiasm and dedication, the event is now one of the biggest in Bath and North East Somerset with more than 2,500 people attending each summer.
It’s success over the last decade has seen more than £75,000 raised from the festival – all of which has been reinvested back into the community.
Councillor Walker’s other achievements include:
- Launching a Community Award in memory of a villager who passed away;
- Setting up a volunteer scheme for young people in Peasedown St John;
- Raising £10,000 for a mother with cancer – all so her and her family could go on a dream holiday;
- Organising fundraising events for Macmillan Cancer Research;
- Securing £6,000 for community projects in Peasedown St John;
- Setting up ‘Peasedown In Bloom’, which has helped local people feel inspired about their parks and open spaces.
Councillor Walker has also served as a parish councillor since 2011, which has included six years as Chair of the Planning Committee, and three years as Vice Chair of the council.
The new Vice Chair of the Council is Councillor Eleanor Jackson who has represented Westfield since becoming a councillor in 2007.
She said: “Being elected Vice Chair of B&NES Council is a tremendous honour, though given what previous Chairs have achieved since I was first elected in 2007 it fills me with trepidation as well.
“I look forward to working with Councillor Walker as Chair of B&NES.”