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Tribute to Karen Lumley

Karen Lumley: 28 March 1964 – 25 May 2023 | Shutterstock

3 min read

Kind, compassionate and determined, Karen Lumley was a woman of huge character and fantastic hairstyles, who set a shining example in her dedication to public service

When I first became the MP for Redditch County I knew I had big shoes to fill following in the footsteps of Karen Lumley. Sadly, by the time I was elected, she was already seriously ill, so I never got to know her. But despite that, her legacy was a shining example of a life dedicated to public service. Everywhere I went across the constituency people would ask me about her and share their memories of when Karen visited their school, business, or community group.

Not only was she known for her fantastic hairstyles (you couldn’t miss her in the House of Commons amongst the sea of blue suits), but she was known to be a kind, compassionate and determined woman.

Living and working in Redditch myself, I can see that the warmth and volume of the tributes now being made to Karen are a reflection of her impact. Constituents and colleagues spoke so fondly of her smile and her larger-than-life character. The impact that she made as a local MP really is a daily inspiration to me. When you first take up your seat as a new MP, you don’t always appreciate what the job involves. But my first few days and weeks were made easier by learning from Karen’s example. She was totally dedicated to the work of being an MP and representing her constituents.

She would have helped many thousands of people in her seven years as the MP for Redditch, and mostly in a way that people did not always see publicly, but each person valued and appreciated the difference she had made to them. She put in the hard yards, quietly focusing on the issues that mattered to people. Over my years as the local MP, I have met countless people who have narrated their appreciation and fondness of Karen, as she helped them and worked on a whole series of local issues.

I have met countless people who have narrated their appreciation and fondness of Karen

Following her sad and too early death, I am not at all surprised by the outpouring of tributes from so many both in Redditch and in Parliament. People locally remember their vivacious representative, who spent her whole life serving her community. And on the national stage, she was known for her steadfast Conservative principles and common sense.

And Karen was tenacious, especially when it came to the fight to represent Redditch in Parliament. She unsuccessfully contested the seat twice before she was finally elected in 2010 becoming the constituency’s second female MP. In the process of winning, she defeated the former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith. That’s no small feat. She was a fighter.

She was a woman with a huge personality, but it also takes a huge amount of steel to be determined enough to fight on through those general election defeats.

I will remember Karen as someone I’m privileged to have followed in representing the wonderful constituency of Redditch in Parliament. I hope to honour her as a living testament by trying to live up to her example every single day. 

Rachel Maclean is Conservative MP for Redditch

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