'Unbelievable' surprise for dedicated former councillor

Former councillor Marie Strong and husband Mike at Langham Dome

Former councillor Marie Strong and husband Mike were presented with some garden furniture at a surprise presentation at Langham Dome. - Credit: Supplied by Patrick Allen

A dedicated councillor who fought hard for her community for more than a decade was honoured on Tuesday at a surprise gift-giving presentation.

Dr Marie Strong, who was elected to represent Wells-next-the-Sea and its surrounding villages on the county council in 2009, decided to step down at the election in May of this year.  

At the event at Langham Dome, Dr Strong was presented with a pair of teak garden chairs and matching table - purchased by the parish council chairs and clerks of her division.

The presentation held for Dr Marie Strong at Langham Dome

The presentation for Dr Marie Strong was held under the spitfire at Langham Dome, and was attended by parish clerks, chairs and councillors. - Credit: Supplied by Patrick Allen

“It was just unbelievable,” said Dr Strong, who had no idea about the event before her arrival.

As a councillor, Dr Strong focused on several key campaign pledges, including flood sirens on the coast and better broadband in the area. 


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She recalled going to parliament to see Eric Pickles, then-secretary of state for communities, to press him on better broadband at a breakfast meeting.

MP Eric Pickles

Dr Strong lobbied Eric Pickles for better broadband in her part of Norfolk. At the time, Lord Pickles was secretary of state for communities and local government. - Credit: Archant

“I put my hand up and said: ‘I gather you’re about to release money [for improved broadband].' I pointed to the map and said: 'This is my division, and this is my county and we need it more than any of these others.'

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“Bless his heart. He looked down and said ‘Oh, Wells-next-the-Sea, I’ve been there, bird-watching'. Well, I was home and dry wasn’t I?”

The better broadband scheme for Wells has reached the 150,000 properties milestone. Pictured are (fr

The better broadband scheme for Wells reached the 150,000 properties milestone in 2015. Pictured are (from left) Bill Murphy, Karen O'Kane, Cllr Marie Strong, Allen Frary, Melanie Harriss and Cara Green. - Credit: Ian Burt

Langham parish councillor Patrick Allen said: “She rarely missed a parish council meeting of her 20 parishes in the division, often travelling between two meetings in one evening.” 

The former Liberal Democrat councillor, who this year allowed her party membership to lapse - saying she was never especially motivated by party politics - has plenty to catch up on in retirement.

The better broadband scheme for Wells has reached the 150,000 properties milestone. Pictured on Well

Dr Marie Strong, pictured on Wells Quay in 2015. - Credit: Ian Burt

“In the dining room, there’s a narrow piece of fabric hanging from the curtain rail. I put that up 13 years ago to decide on the length of the curtain - and the piece is still hanging up,” she said.

Dr Strong, who is a doctor of philosophy, will also continue her work with her husband Mike on the Wells Flood Action Plan group, as well as working on some academic and creative writing.

A meeting was held at Wells Community Hospital to combat dementia in Norfolk. Pictured is Cllr Marie

Dr Marie Strong, pictured at a dementia-focused event at Wells Community Hospital in 2016. - Credit: Ian Burt

In a message to her community, she said: “It’s been an absolute privilege and delight to work with the people of my division.”

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