“MONTGOMERYSHIRE has lost one of its greatest ever champions,” is one of the many tributes paid to Lady Shirley Hooson, who has died aged 91.

The former Llanidloes Mayor and wife of the late Lord Emlyn Hooson passed away in the early hours of Sunday, April 22, after a long period of illness.

Lady Hooson was the wife of the late Liberal MP for Montgomeryshire, Lord Hooson, who served the county for 17 years.

She dedicated much of her life to serving Llanidloes as a member of the town council for 44 years, from 1974 to 2017, including a term as mayor until ill-health forced her retirement. She stood down from the town council a few weeks after her 90th birthday.

Lady Hooson was made an Honorary Alderman of Llanidloes in recognition of her long and loyal service in 2017. She also represented the town on the Montgomeryshire District Council from when it started in 1973 until 1996 when it was absorbed into the Powys Unitary Authority. During her term she was chair of the Personnel Committee for many years and became vice chair of the council.

Glyn Davies MP paid tribute to Lady Hooson saying: “I first met Shirley Hooson when we were both elected to Montgomeryshire District Council over 40 years ago. She was as determinedly ‘Llanidloes’ as I was determinedly ‘Berriew’, which meant it took a while for us to get used to each other. When I became chairman, Shirley became my vice chairman. Our stubbornness meant we disagreed sometimes, but soon became good friends, and remained so until she died. To me she was like family.

“Lady Hooson and her great late husband, Emlyn, were wonderful people who gave much of their lives to Llanidloes and Montgomeryshire. I will always treasure memories of joining her visiting Emlyn towards the end of his life.

“She was a key support to him throughout his hugely successful political career. Over the last three years, after she had lost the ability to speak, I valued meeting her more than ever. We simply did not need words to communicate.

“Llanidloes and Montgomeryshire has lost one of its greatest ever champions.”

Former Montgomeryshire MP, Lord Carlile of Berriew, was close to both Lord and Lady Lady Hooson.

He said: “I knew her for many, many years. She was a Montgomeryshire person through and through. Her heart had Llanidloes written all over it. She was an extraordinary public servant, councillor and mayor.

“She made a great contribution to the legal profession with Lord Hooson at his Chambers in Chester, which I later joined. It is legendary the way they built his practice, which led him to become the best QC Wales has ever known.

“In her later years, she was affected by illness. She will be greatly missed by me, personally. When I was an MP for Montgomeryshire, she would give advice and knowledge, robust and engaging, and the results were always beneficial to me.”

Powys County Councillor Gareth Morgan, elected member for Llanidloes, said: “Lady Hooson was without doubt Llanidloes’ most distinguished citizen. She cared for her electorate with commitment and passion and earned their unfailing support and admiration. Her passing leaves a large gap in public life in Montgomeryshire.

“Llani’ will never be the same without her.”

Cllr William Powell, President of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and former Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, said: “I am very sorry to hear of Lady Hooson’s passing. I first came to know Lady Shirley when she accompanied Lord Hooson over many years at the annual Lloyd George Society Weekend School. She was always ready with a question or comment and loved the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. She was also a rock to her late husband, in a firm but discreet way, enabling him to enjoy proceedings.

“When I first visited Lord and Lady Hooson at their home in Summerfield Park, accompanied by their lifelong friend, Cllr Gareth Morgan, Lady Hooson was the perfect hostess, offering hospitality and wise counsel, given her many years of public service in Montgomeryshire. I know that Lady Hooson was also a loyal member of Llanidloes Town Council for decades – and so many locally will be saddened to hear of her passing.

‘While I know she is now at rest, after some years of ill health, I cannot but see this as the end of an era. Montgomeryshire will not see her like again. My sincere condolences go to her daughters and the extended family.’’

Lady Hooson is survived by her two daughters, Sioned and Lowri.

n THE funeral service for Lady Hooson will take place at China Street Welsh Presbyterian Chapel on May 5 at noon.