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Remembering Clarissa Slade through her powerful election message

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Kayleigh Dray
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Clarissa Slade – whose sudden death has sent shockwaves across social media – was Britain’s youngest councillor when she was elected in 2015. Here, we remember her inspiring election speech.

Earlier this week, it was sadly confirmed that Clarissa Slade, Britain’s youngest councillor, had been found dead in her accommodation at the University of Winchester.

Stephen Walford, Mid Devon District Council’s chief executive, told local reporters at Devon Live: “Sadly I was informed last night that a serving member of our council, Clarissa Slade, had passed away suddenly [on Monday 26 March].

“This is clearly a great shock to everyone at the council and will affect all those who worked with Clarissa and the community she served.”

Walford continued: “Clarissa’s parents, who are both serving councillors here at Mid Devon, will be devastated by this news and we will be supporting them in any way we can.

“I will be opening a book of condolence at Phoenix House.”

Leader of the Council, Clive Eginton, added: “The devastating news regarding the sudden passing of Councillor Clarissa Slade has been deeply felt by myself, fellow Councillors and officers across the Council. 

“As our youngest-ever elected Councillor, Clarissa worked hard for her residents in Cranmore Ward, Tiverton and also participated across the town as a whole in a variety of events. On the national stage she had also made her mark with her involvement in youth politics. Clarissa had an endearing personality to all those who knew her well and we will miss her enormously.

“Our thoughts at this time are with Clarissa’s parents Colin and Elizabeth.”

Clarissa was elected in May 2015, when she was 18, to represent Tiverton as a Conservative councillor on the Mid-Devon District Council.

She was previously chair of the Devon Conservative Future and undertook a work placement at the Westminster office of Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish.

However, at the time of her election, she was poised to move into accommodation at the University of Winchester, having been offered a place to read Classical Studies in 2015.

While some assumed that this meant she would have to give up her seat, though, Clarissa proudly informed the council that she had “no intention” of resigning and that she “remained committed” to serving the people of her ward.

“I would like to think that electors were impressed that someone of my age was willing to stand for council and were prepared to give me a chance to prove myself,” said Slade at the time, in a rousing speech.

“I’m not concerned – I’m excited and intrigued to get started.”

Clarissa’s father, Colin Slade, said he was “devastated” by the loss of his daughter who “had much more to give”.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “It is such a shock. She was due to come back to visit and the first thing we knew was when she was not on the train.

“She had a bright future ahead, she was very keen on politics and she was a very bright young councillor, the youngest in the country when she was elected.”

In a separate interview with the BBC, Colin added that his daughter’s “long term ambition was to be prime minister”.

“Who knows what she could have achieved?” he said.

Clarissa’s family are still waiting for information from the coroner regarding the cause of her death. Police are currently said to be treating it as unexplained, and a post-mortem is due to take place.

Image: Mid Devon District Council

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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