UPDATED: POPULAR Birchwood Cllr Pauline Nelson has sadly died on the morning she was set to become an Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Warrington at an extra-ordinary meeting of the council tonight (July 2).
On the wishes of her family the award will still be made posthumously and members of the public are being invited to be part of the occasion online as she is proposed by her friend and colleague Cllr Russ Bowden, leader of the council.
The proceedings will be shown online at 6pm using Microsoft Teams via the Council’s website following the link https://www.warrington.gov.uk/committees
Council Chief Executive Steven Broomhead confirmed the meeting would go ahead as planned at the request of Cllr Nelson’s family.
“It is very sad. Pauline had been quite poorly and we were doing everything we could to present her with this deserving honour in recognition of her great service to the borough. Our condolences to her family and very many friends. She will be sadly missed.”
Prior to Cllr Nelson’s death this morning Cllr Bowden said: “Pauline’s family were one of the first into Birchwood in the late 1970s, having a house in Curlew Grove. Her father was the first caretaker at Oakwood Mount Primary School (now Birchwood CofE). She has become a Birchwood institution and was central to many of the battles that were fought by our community – for our own high school, for full access at Birchwood railway station, to keep 24/7 cover at Birchwood Fire Station and the closure of Risley tip. Initially involved with the Church of the Transfiguration, Pauline became active in local youth provision, qualifying as a youth worker and working out of The Junction and JoJo’s. Pauline was a school governor at Birchwood CofE and then Birchwood High School, was an active community campaigner and eventually a member of both Birchwood Town Council and Warrington Borough Council. Now with almost 30 years of service, including a very proud year as Mayor of Warrington in 2003/4, she has been at the heart of the community throughout the timeline of Birchwood, from when there was very little, right up to today where it is a major part of our town and the local economy. She was also a stalwart supporter and fundraiser for Warrington (Wolves) RLFC.
“Pauline was diagnosed with lung cancer about 18 months ago. After contracting pneumonia and being hospitalised recently, it was revealed that the cancer has spread and that there is no further treatment available. Pauline was due to retire as a Councillor last month, but that was delayed by the Covid-19 crisis.
“Tonight’s meeting is about recognising the massive contribution that she has made to Birchwood and to Warrington in general.”
Cllr Nelson, aged 74, was Mayor of Warrington in 2003-04 and also sat on the board at Warrington Borough Transport.
In 2010 she lost the tip of a finger after she was savaged by a dog while out electioneering.
She was delivering a leaflet through a letterbox when the dog snapped at her hand.
Born in Manchester, Cllr Nelson has lived in Warrington since 1979 and has two children, John and Emma, and a husband Barry.
A member of Birchwood Town Council and Warrington Borough Council for 29 years, Pauline was first elected in May 1991. Her years of service include a proud year as Mayor of Warrington in 2003/4 and she also chaired multiple council committees.
Pauline has always been at the heart of the community she served in Birchwood, initially involved with the Church of the Transfiguration, she became active in local youth provision and qualified as a youth worker. She was also a school governor at Birchwood CofE Primary School and then Birchwood High School.
A report to tonight’s meeting states: “A huge Warrington Wolves and Manchester United Fan, Pauline is a founder member of the Warrington Wolves Supporters Trust. Described as an ‘enthusiastic and respected board member’, the trust has donated over £200,000 since its inception in 2002 to funding the training and education of players and coaches and the donation of equipment.
“Cllr Nelson has always gone above and beyond in helping at all the fundraising events for Warrington Wolves Supporters Trust. Pauline has been actively involved in several Warrington Wolves players’ testimonials, including Lee Briers and Ben Westwood.
“Her close relationship with the players at Warrington Wolves was shown in December, when she affectionately spoke at the Honorary Citizenship Ceremony for Ben Westwood.
“In 2018, Councillor Nelson was named a Heart and Soul Award winner, which is presented to those people who have given their time and passion to the development of rugby league in Warrington.
“She was recognised in particular for her commitment in supporting the young people at Warrington Wolves Rugby Club, using her experience and knowledge as a local councillor, school governor and thorough her work with local youth groups within Warrington. This award presented her with a footprint bearing her name that would be placed in the concourse of the Halliwell Jones Stadium’s South Stand.
“Cllr Pauline Nelson was first elected a councillor of Warrington Borough Council in May 1991, representing the Birchwood Ward. In her time on the council, Councillor Nelson has sat on many committees. In recent years she has sat on and chaired the licensing committee, and its various sub-committees. In 2003, Councillor Nelson was appointed Mayor of Warrington. She showed her dedication to the youth of the town by choosing Project 12-19, a charity for young people, for her mayoral appeal.
“As well as being a Cllr for Warrington Borough Council, she also sits as a parish councillor for Birchwood Town Council. Councillor Nelson has been a stalwart resident of Birchwood since it was built, and even served as Chair of Birchwood Town Council.”