HAVANT’S longest-serving councillor has been honoured with a tree planted in her name.
Conservative councillor Gwen Blackett today laid soil at the roots of a tree planted in celebration of her 43 years of service to the Purbrook ward.
She was joined by fellow councillors and the Mayor of Havant, Cllr Elaine Shimbart, in a surprise ceremony at the Public Service Plaza, Havant.
Known simply as the ‘Gwen Blackett tree’, it now sits on the corner of Civic Centre Road – just metres away from the council building.
Speaking after the ceremony, Cllr Blackett said: ‘This is a great honour and a very nice surprise, I certainly hadn’t a clue what was going on.
‘These 43 years have been a pleasure but I have always remembered that the most important people when you’re elected as a councillor are the people who elect you.
‘So I have always looked after my constituents, as they’re the most important thing.’
During her long service, Cllr Blackett has built an extensive portfolio, taking on roles in fields including environmental health and wellbeing, strategy and regeneration, planning, leisure and development.
She served as the mayor of Havant between 1981 and 1982 and was appointed a cabinet member for six years in 2002.
Collectively, Cllr Blackett has represented the council at a total of 59 outside organisations during her local government service.
Mayor Elaine Shimbart introduced last night’s ceremony, which took place before a full council meeting.
She said: ‘Gwen is our longest-serving councillor and I think it’s so well-deserved that we could plant a tree in her name.
‘We even managed to keep the ceremony completely secret from her, which is great.’