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Woman of the Year

Woman of the YearFor a while now, we've held a growing admiration for the campaign being led by Pat Davies of the Preston New Road group who are opposing Cuadrilla's planning application to explore and hydraulically fracture shale gas in Fylde.

She leads a team of ordinary folk in standing up to the might of big oil-backed money and, indeed, the Government, and she has already achieved remarkable success.

Not only has she delivered many achievements for her community, she has done so in a way that is wholly responsible, measured, and professional.

We know that's not an easy task when individual support for the cause can range from those working in the professions to others on the - shall we say - more provisional wing of the debate.

But when you know her background, it's less of a surprise.

She is an ex Marks & Spencer manager who wrote the BTEC qualification in retail distribution and had it accredited at the age of only 26.

She spent many years as a Human Resources Development Consultant to the Ford motor company, managing a consultancy team of 90 working in 300 Dealerships, implementing the Customer Handling Standards programme, and carrying out a range of psychometric evaluations on motor industry management regarding successional planning and providing targeted training and development programmes up to Director level. She was also responsible for HR operational strategy and project management across the UK and some overseas areas - chiefly in France.

Whilst in Paris - and in her spare time - (Yes really!) she helped the Societe Anglophone pour les Aveugles' by undertaking book and exam paper translations for English blind people living in Paris, and eventually became a Director.

She has also worked for what is now a local chemical company, and managed their business relocation from Norfolk to Chorley, yet still found the time to be a governor at her daughter's school on the staffing and finance committees.

This is one able and formidable lady.

It's no wonder those close to her describe her with affection as 'The Pocket Rocket'

But what many of our readers may not know is that Pat suffers from serious ill health and, after medical advice and periods in hospital, has many times been told to distance herself from the stress of the campaign she leads.

Whilst a very good listener in many respects, she has a deaf ear to such calls and, dismissing the entreaties of her family, she continues to support the community in which she lives with dignity and incredible dedication.


 

In the beginning, she was simply part of a disparate assortment of concerned local residents, but she soon became their spokesman. Using little more than her personality and determination, she drew to herself a wide spectrum of experts and professionals. She worked in close collaboration with other local and national groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. The group fundraised for professional legal representation in respect of the LCC planning decision and, once the County Councillors caused the release of the advice from the QC their officers had engaged, it was the Preston New Road Group's barrister, (supported by FoE's separate opinion) who helped to convince the County Council that there were proper and adequate grounds to refuse the applications.

So her work truly has a national dimension as well as a local one.

When Cuadrilla appealed that planning refusal, she once again successfully set about fund-raising to pay for a professional barrister to represent the group at the Public Inquiry (as we reported in our article 'Snippets in November 2015'). This process included at least two nationally available magazine mailshots arranged by those supporting her cause.

And at the same time, Pat and her team assembled Statements of Case and Proofs of Evidence and so on, to build the case to be argued by the Preston New Road group at the Public Inquiry.

We have some idea what it's like to be involved with a campaign like this, because we too have been involved in other, albeit smaller planning appeals as a Rule 6 party. It involves an incredible amount of work and wrests whole months out of your life.

Proofs of EvidenceAs we showed in Fracking Update January 2016 the photograph of the ringbinders gives a visual clue to the scale of the product of that work. But what the picture doesn't show is the hours and hours of work that have been spent to research and prepare the information that went into the binders in the first place.

In all of the people we know, not one has a bad word to say about her. The greatest concern we hear toward Pat is that she is putting her own health at risk to support the community in which she lives.

So when we saw that our MP was once again running a 'Woman of the Year' event, and saying that  nominations must be received before Friday 26th February,  we simply couldn't think of a better and more deserving person than Pat.

If any of our readers want to support Pat by nominating her, or if they have someone else in mind for the role, Mr Menzies requirements are

"Please provide the name and address of the person you are nominating along with the reasons for their nomination. This can be sent to me either by post to House of Commons, London, SW1A OM or email atmark.menzies.mp@parliament.uk also if you have any queries about the process you can telephone my office on 01253 739848"

Dated:  18 February 2016


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