Two Labor councilors in Rochdale have marked a double celebration recently- they got married just one day after they were both re-elected to their wards in the recent local election.
On Saturday 7 May, Councilor John Blundell tied the knot with Councilor Elsie Wraighte, of the Labor and Co-operative Party, hours after they were both by their constituents. Representing Smallbridge and Firgrove, John received 1312 votes and Elsie, who represents Balderstone and Kirkholt, received 1062 votes.
The husband and wife were wed in an intimate ceremony at St Chad’s Parish Church in central Rochdale and celebrated their reception at The Baum pub on Toad Lane. This was their third attempt to get married, as their wedding had to be postponed twice during the pandemic.
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It was important for the couple to get married in the borough of Rochdale, where they carry out their community work. Planning a wedding at the same time that they were campaigning for the election was “stressful” for both, but worth it in the end, they said.
speaking to the Manchester Evening News from their honeymoon in sunny Spain, the pair opened up about the thrilling new chapter in their lives.
John, 28, who has been a councilor since 2014, said: “Both the election and our wedding went well, so it was doubly nice.
“We are obviously overtly political people, so the election was important to us. But wereally wanted to get married, so we literally took the first opportunity and got married on the Saturday following the election.
“We couldn’t have found anywhere better than St Chad’s Church and The Baum- it was a beautiful day. I t was stressful, getting ready for the election and planning a wedding at the same time, but it was lovely to celebrate both in the same week!”
Elsie, 30, who became a councilor in 2019, said: “We were really happy because we both got re-elected and then we got married, so it was the happiest day of our lives!
“The wedding was perfect. It was a beautiful and small ceremony with our family and closest friends. Typically, inRochdale, it does rain a lot, but luckily, the sun really shone through the church window and through the glass conservatory in The Baum.
“I wouldn’t encourage others to plan a wedding at the same time as an election! But, in a way, it gave us a bit of balance, because it meant that we didn’t just focus on one thing at a time.
“Having the wedding after the election was a chance for our loved ones to get together and celebrate our victories in the election, as well as our marriage. We were very lucky.”
The couple, who became engaged on a trip to Paris three years ago, said they bond over a shared love of politics and helping people around them.
“When I met John, one of the things that I liked about him was that he was a Councilor,” Elsie explained. “He always looked after his community of him.
“We both have full-time jobs on top of our councillor’s responsibilities, so our lives get really busy. But equally, it is amazing to have someone who fully understands the role of a councilor and can be really supportive.”
Getting re-elected in their wards was exciting for the couple, who are very thankful for the support of their constituents and community.
John, who works as a consultant, said: “I became a councilor at the age of 20, so I was the youngest councilor up until this election. And now I’m married to another councillor, I feel like I have grown up!
“There is no greater sense of pride than being re-elected. H saving the public show that support again, it’s euphoric.
“Going around your ward and having people recognizing you and saying thank you for the work we have done, it brings a real sense of commitment and duty around what the role of being a councilor is- and how important it is to people. Running an election campaign, especially where people have a choice, and winning, is a real validation.”
Transport officer Elsie continued: ” It felt absolutely amazing to know that we were being re-elected based on the hard work that we had done. T he Labor party in the Rochdale borough is a strong team and we certainly felt very supported by our ward colleagues.”
Education is a key issue that Elsie is passionate about tackling, as she is Rochdale Council’s deputy cabinet member for children’s services and education.
She added: ” Social mobility is a really important issue for me. So I’ve been working to make sure children from disadvantaged backgrounds get good opportunities in life.
“Young people right across our borough-inRochdale, Heywood and Middleton – should have access to excellent education opportunities and services. I am also looking forward to helping people in my own ward, whether it’s with bins, potholes or improving housing and green spaces that make such a difference to people’s daily lives.”
Meanwhile, John has pledged to continue his development work across the borough of Rochdale and ensure all residents feel seen and heard.
He added: “As a party, we want to look at how we are communicating with people in all corners of the borough on how we plan and deliver services that they want. For me, it’s high on the agenda to differentiate what the plans are for Middleton, Heywood and Rochdale.
“Another big thing is building sustainably andtrying to redevelop the town centers inMiddleton and Heywood. We also want to continue the Read and Feed scheme that I set up, which hands out school dinners in libraries in the borough and encourages children to read.”
To find out more about Cllrs John Blundell and Elsie Wrighte, visit here.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.