Zoé completes her year as Council Chairman after defeating cancer
Almost four years ago, Councillor Zoé Patrick was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and didn’t know if she’d live – now she’s completing her year as Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council and wants to tell the world that Oxfordshire is thriving and full of inspirational people.
“I talk to people who are about to have the same treatment I had and when they hear what I’ve been doing in one of the most important roles at the council, it gives them the opportunity to see that you can lead a full life following recovery from cancer”, said Zoé.
Mother and Grandmother, Councillor Patrick, is one of two county councillors for the Grove and Wantage division. She was elected Vice-Chairman of the Council in 2016/17 and became Chairman in 2017/18. The role is the county’s equivalent of a Mayor in a town or city and the holder is the ceremonial head of the council.
She said: “It’s been a fantastic year. I’ve attended over 160 events and people have been so welcoming to receive an official representative with the chain of office, whether from the smallest village or in the city of Oxford. There’s no doubt it helps them feel like they are part of a thriving Oxfordshire as well as being part and parcel of the town, city or village in which they live.”
“Every place is different, but the one thing that binds all our Oxfordshire communities together is that they all want their own particular area to thrive and do well. We are a county of community spirit. Everywhere I have been, I have seen amazing and dedicated volunteers who are passionate about what they do and want to keep working hard because they feel proud of where they live and what they believe in.”
“Some examples I have seen during my year in office have been those dedicated people who took up the offer of start-up funding to help keep children’s centres running; the incredibly inspiring people who were awarded British Empire Medals from the Lord Lieutenant last year; the fantastic public servants who work for the county council and other organisations to whom I was able to give long service awards – all of them love their community in Oxfordshire and prove it through their efforts, day in and day out.”
During her year in office, Councillor Patrick has officiated at events as diverse as the Armed Forces Day flag raising, the annual handing over of the rose at Wittenham Clumps – signifying the continued public access to one of Oxfordshire’s most beautiful areas, and a number of events staged by Oxfordshire’s highly regarded County Music Service.
Zoe said: “I really must say we’ve got an amazing County Music Service with very well trained and skilled young people. It’s been such a privilege to watch them in action out and about the county and beyond.”
“I’ve also represented Oxfordshire at six events at which members of the Royal Family were present including one with the Duke of Cambridge in Oxford. This was during the beginning of my year and Kensington Palace had just announced the new royal baby was due this year so it gave me great pleasure to congratulate Prince William on this news. As my year ends, Prince Louis was born and named – so I’ll always associate being Chairman with Prince Louis.”
“I must also mention our Armed Forces. They are such a prominent part of our lives in Oxfordshire and have contributed to our county in such a positive way. The sad times have always been attending the repatriations at Brize Norton to pay respects on behalf of the citizens of Oxfordshire, which I have done on every occasion until recently. However, in contrast, there have been happy times when I have had the privilege of celebrating 100 years of the RAF with various events including one large gathering of over 800 air cadets over in Windsor last month.”
During her year in office, she was delighted to cut the ribbon at the opening of the newly refurbished central library in Oxford, and met the local famous author Philip Pulman during the event. She said it was an occasion to remember seeing the wonderful facilities which are now on offer to the people in Oxfordshire and beyond.
Zoé has raised nearly £2,000 for charities linked to cancer including Maggie’s Cancer Centre at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford and has volunteered during her year supporting patients recently diagnosed with oesophageal cancer to give them support during their illness and on their way to recovery.
She continued: “One of my final responsibilities was attending the Oxfordshire Company of the Year event at The King’s Centre in Oxford in which British Olympic rower and gold medallist from the 2000 Sydney games, Tim Foster, was inspiring young people to never give up. It rang true for me with what has happened over recent years.
“When I was ill and receiving treatment, I could never have imagined the joy of travelling the length and breadth of this thriving county of ours and meeting its amazing communities. That is precisely what I’ve experienced – and I’ve enjoyed every minute. It has been a great honour for me to represent Oxfordshire County Council and a year I shall always cherish.”