Obituary: Tributes to Todmorden Town Councillor and former Mayor Ruth Coleman-Taylor

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Todmorden Town Councillor Ruth Coleman-Taylor has died in Greece, aged 75, after three months in ICU at a hospital in Athens.

Ruth was elected to the Town Council representing Stoodley ward in 2019 and was elected Mayor of Todmorden in the COVID year of 2020-21, when she chaired Council meetings on zoom and served on the Council’s Emergency Committee delivering many of the Council’s novel initiatives to support people during lock down.

Ruth had a long career in the Liberal Party and later in the Liberal Democrats, joining the Young Liberals in 1966 and serving as Chair of the Young Liberals and Union of Liberal Students f in the early 1970s.

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After taking a degree in Economics and Politics she moved to Huddersfield in the early 70’ties. She married fellow young Liberal Patrick Coleman in 1975 and when Patrick joined the British Rail management career scheme at BR HQ in Swindon she moved with him to the south west and settled in Chippenham.

Councillor Ruth Coleman-TaylorCouncillor Ruth Coleman-Taylor
Councillor Ruth Coleman-Taylor

Ruth worked as a maths teacher, but her real passion was local government and in 1991 she was elected to represent Chippenham on North Wiltshire District Council. She held her Council seat for 16 years and was leader of the Council for 12 of those years. She masterminded the transfer of responsibility for some services from Wiltshire County Council to the District Council , notably economic development. She also became Chair of West Swindon Mental Health Trust in the 80’s

At the national level she became a Member of the Women’s’ National Commission and served on the NWC Executive for 10 years

During this period she became very active in the (national) Local Government Association, which led to her becoming one of the councillors elected to represent British local government on the European Union’s Committee of the Regions.

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In 2007 Ruth married Councillor Michael Taylor, who had been a very young Mayor of Todmorden in 1977-78. In 2019 both of them were elected to Todmorden Town Council.

Now facing the end of their town council mandate in May 2023 Ruth and Michael decided to retire to Greece. As lockdown ended they found a house near Kalamata and just before Easter this year they went to Greece to sort out the house purchase and plan their move. Tragically, Ruth was never to enjoy her retirement in Greece.

Ruth was a talented and committed local politician, who worked hard for the communities she represented. She worked at all three levels of government and politics: local, national and European. In the chair and as a negotiator she was courteous, calm and in control. To her colleagues she was supportive and open minded. She was a committed internationalist and feminist.

Ruth was very creative not just in politics but also in her private life. She made her own very personally styled clothes and developed with Michael their beautiful and largely edible garden at Owler’s Walk, Todmorden. One of her private interests was science fiction. With Michael she attended a number of international sci-fi conventions.

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Ruth is mourned by her husband and her four children, Rachel, Daniel, Johnathon and Matthew and two grand children. She will be greatly missed by her many political friends and her council colleagues.

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