Shropshire Star

Jackie Weaver: From sleepy Shropshire to viral fame for woman at centre of parish council meeting

Shropshire woman Jackie Weaver has become an overnight internet sensation after a viral clip of a Handforth Parish Council meeting.

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Jackie Weaver pictured during the now-famous Handforth Parish Council meeting

The woman at the centre of an explosive parish council meeting that went viral online has said she is used to a more peaceful life in Shropshire.

Jackie Weaver has been become an internet sensation for the calm way she handed a meeting of Handforth Parish Council on Thursday.

Speaking from her home in Prees, north Shropshire, Jackie said she was gobsmacked by the media attention but extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from across the UK and beyond.

She was hosting the December meeting of the parish council, near Wilmslow, in her capacity as chief officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils after councillors suspended their parish clerk in November.

This was the third of their meetings she had hosted on a Zoom call - which is how councils are hosting meetings during lockdown - and she said she had never expected the fireworks to erupt as they did.

WATCH the highlights of the meeting here:

When councillors lost their tempers with the 63-year-old, she calmly removed them from the meeting by putting them in an online 'waiting room' where they could not interrupt.

A clip of the meeting, which was put on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, had been viewed more than three million times by Friday morning, much to the shock of Ms Weaver who became the subject of countless memes leading to her trending online.

She told the Shropshire Star she wanted to thank everyone for their kind words and stressed that the meeting was unlike any she had been in before.

"It was not normal behaviour, 99.9 per cent of parish council meetings are not like that," she said.

"We are all used to heated debate in council chambers and councillors can get very excitable, but this was completely unacceptable from anyone's point of view.

"There is an element of bullying and bad behaviour in local councils and our local and national associations are working hard to deal with that."

She said that she had been able to deal with the behaviour by remaining focused.

"I was there to support three councillors who wanted to get on with the ordinary work of the parish council. The parish clerk has now been re-instated and that work can continue."

Jackie, who has been involved with parish councils and the Cheshire Association for 25 years, said she had been 'gobsmacked' by the attention, which included an interview on Radio Four's Women's Hour and even being invited to appear on The Last Leg.

"What I hope this will do is encourage people to get involved in their local parish council. The Association works to raise the profile of parish councils - well this has certainly done that.

"But I am passionate about getting local government to really engage with their communities and so if speaking out does that then it will be a good thing.

"If people didn't like what they saw at that meeting then they should look at getting involved with their own parish council. We would like to see younger people and people for all walks of life getting involved. They can make a difference to their community."

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