COPELAND Council’s former CEO was posthumously recognised for her contribution to public life at an awards event held last week.

Pat Graham was honoured with the outstanding contribution accolade at the Women of the Year Awards lunch at the Belsfield Hotel in Bowness on Windermere.

A two-minute standing ovation was held in honour of Pat who died aged 50 in August following a long battle with cancer. She had retired due to ill health from the council in December 2022.

The Cumbria Women of the Year Committee made the unprecedented decision to present Pat’s award before this year’s annual lunch – something which had never been done before.

Committee members Val Armstrong and Cath Giel had visited Pat to tell her she was being honoured after hearing that her health was deteriorating.

The former Mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie and Mike Graham an Alderman of Copeland – attended with them, having both worked alongside Pat for many years.

Pat sadly died a week after their visit.

Whitehaven News: There was a standing ovation for Pat Graham at the awards eventThere was a standing ovation for Pat Graham at the awards event (Image: Herdsmedia)

Paying tribute to her at the awards event held last week, Ms Armstrong said the committee had received numerous nominations for Pat, which described the great work she achieved in west Cumbria over many years.

Ms Armstrong said: “One of her nominators said she became one of the most influential and impactful individuals ever in Cumbria.

“Her work inspired other women to achieve great things and her contribution to public life in Cumbria created a fabulous legacy that will last for generations.  

“In her final year as council leader she played a pivotal role in bringing almost one hundred million pounds to the area and her work resulted in the potential to create 700 new jobs in just one of her projects.

“This lady went far and beyond her 9-5 job. Great vision, positivity and inspirational, tough, articulate, encouraging.

“I had the honour of telling Pat how much of a difference she had made to so many people's lives and presented her with flowers and a certificate.

“She had the best day. She was buzzing the days before we arrived and her spirits were lifted for a while after we left.

“She died knowing that she was loved and respected by so many people – those who she worked with and those whose lives she changed in the most incredible way.”

Speaking after the event, committee member Yvonne Clarkson said: “The whole room was touched by the moving tribute given by Val Armstrong on the legacy Pat left behind. Certainly there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

“Pat’s family would have been proud had they been present. Well done the two Mikes who were present when the award was presented to Pat at on behalf of our committee.”

The Cumbria Women of the Year annual event is held to celebrate those unsung heroines who work devotedly for the good of others.