A FORMER teacher is celebrating becoming Rossendale's longest-serving politician after 50 years in local government.

Rossendale and Lancashire Honorary Alderman Eileen Kershaw, 79, became a councillor in 1964 as she fought for the educational rights of Catholic children.

The self-confessed ‘gobby cow’ and mum of BBC Radio One DJs Andy and Liz, said even now in her ceremonial roles, she still can’t keep her ‘nose out’ of borough and county politics.

Mrs Kershaw, who served on Lancashire County Council and Rossendale Council for 20 years each, and Whitworth Town Council for 33 years, before retiring recently, said: “I’ve told the council that they won’t get rid of me.”

The Labour party veteran said her Irish grandmother, who emigrated to Rochdale in 1900, inspired her socialist principles from an early age, by feeding and clothing many of the poorest local children. Mrs Kershaw, who has lived in Whitworth since 1970 and celebrates her 50th year in politics in May, said: “She had a commitment to working people, and the needy, which was instilled in me, and is very important for anybody going into politics. You should want to fight injustice, which I did and still do.”

Starting out her working life as a PE teacher in Rochdale, Mrs Kershaw attended a school meeting with the Bishop of Salford in 1959, which inadvertently thrust her into public speaking.

She said: “He was trying to keep Catholic children out of the comprehensive school system. I had taught Catholic children, and they needed to get the same education or they would have been left behind.”

Mrs Kershaw, who was a school teacher for 30 years, said she only ever had aspirations to serve the area she lived in, and thanked the three councils for supporting her.