Death of former Hereford MP Paul Keetch

By Ross Gazette reporter in Politics

Paul Keetch, former Liberal Democrat MP for Hereford died on Wednesday, May 24th in London, aged 56.

Paul was a liberal, a democrat and an internationalist and amongst Liberal Politicians, a rarity in that he had never lost an election.

He was elected to Hereford City Council at the age of 21, making him the then youngest City Councillor in the UK. As a proud Herefordian, born and raised in the city, there was only one place he wanted to represent in Parliament and he became the MP for Hereford at his first attempt in 1997. He defended the seat twice in 2001 and 2005, before standing down prior to the 2010 election.

Paul frequently said that some of his most satisfying achievements were as a constituency MP in Herefordshire. He took pride in the part he played in getting flood defences for Hereford and Ross-on-Wye, securing the future of the County Hospital in Hereford and campaigning for more beds and staff whilst securing funding for the A&E and maternity departments locally; he secured an Education Action Zone working with business and the community to provide funding and facilities to improve schools, as well as supporting bids for funding new school buildings and projects throughout the constituency.

He ensured that every school was invited to tour the Houses of Parliament and did his utmost to meet them and conduct part of the tour personally, encouraging young people to enjoy and understand politics and history.

Additionally he was an advocate of putting Herefordshire on the map and would take every opportunity to do so.

Paul suffered a major health scare in 2007 after suffering a cardiac arrest on a transatlantic flight caused by a heart arrhythmia. He made a strong recovery and returned to Parliament to serve diligently as both a local MP and a Party Whip.

He was Patron of Herefordshire Heartstart, a local charity with which he had worked for several years. His survival in 2007 was due to prompt attention and the use of an AED on board the flight; he made it known that AEDs needed to be available in all public places to allow others the chance of survival in such emergencies and his work in this area can be seen by the amount of AEDs now available in supermarkets, libraries, public areas and buildings throughout the country.

After leaving Parliament, and in the face of considerable criticism, Paul became the most senior Liberal Democrat to campaign for a leave vote in the referendum.

Paul married Claire Elizabeth Baker in 1991; the marriage was amicably dissolved and he is survived by Claire and their son William.

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