[E]den District Council is mourning the loss of Councillor Sheila Orchard (Conservative/Hartside), who sadly passed away on Friday 24 November 2017, after a long illness aged sixty-six. Council Orchard lived at Melmerby, near Penrith with her husband Robert.
Councillor Orchard was first elected as the Conservative District Councillor for Hartside in 2007 and was Leader of the Conservative Group on the District Council from 2011-2015. She played a key role in the District Council’s Scrutiny function as Chairman of the Co-ordinating Board from 2015-2017 and most recently as its Vice Chairman.
Some of the most valued pieces of work undertaken by Councillor Orchard involved Chairing the Talking with Rural Communities Scrutiny Review in 2013/14. This was established to improve the way the Council communicates with rural communities. As part of the Review. Councillors visited six rural areas in Eden District, speaking directly to local residents to hear their concerns about how the Council could better engage with them.
Eden District Council Leader, Kevin Beaty, said: “There are not many people I would describe as a force of nature, but Sheila was definitely one of those. She stood up for her conservative values, but also had very much the interests of the people she represented at heart. She will be sadly missed on a political level, as well as very much on a personal level. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sheila’s husband Robert, her family and friends at this time.”
Councillor Orchard also Chaired the Annual Review of the Council’s Budget Setting Process in 2015/2016 to ensure the work was undertaken in an open and transparent way. She served on the Council’s Planning Committee from 2013-2015 and then became a standing deputy from 2015 onwards. From 2013 she also represented the Council on the North Country Leisure Board (latterly Greenwich Leisure Limited), who are the Council’s leisure services contractor.
Councillor Ian Chambers, who Chairs the Conservative Group on Eden District Council, said: “Sheila and I hit it off right from the start, she always gave me words of encouragement. Sheila was a team player, but she was there, doing her best for the people she represented, as we all should be.”