Tributes paid to campaigner Ann

Ann Prior

Ann Prior - Credit: Archant

A tireless campaigner, who has died aged 74, will be remembered as someone who ‘always helped people and stood up for them’.

Ann Prior, who was born in the town and lived here for most of her life, was well known as a thorn in the side of officialdom.

Born in the Colony, Ann joined her first campaign when living in Withycombe Road, when the end of Exeter Road was closed after the construction of Marine Way – sending a plague of delivery lorries bound for town centre shops clattering past her house. After a campaign which included bringing experts from the University of Exeter to put decibel machines in her front garden, Ann managed to get highways bosses to reverse their decision.

In subsequent years, she successfully – at the time – fought off plans to build a supermarket on the Exmouth Rugby Club ground and caused major headaches to those developing Exmouth Docks, securing Belshers Slipway as a public right of way. Despite these high-profile victories, her husband Ivan says Ann was most passionate about helping her neighbours, particularly after moving back to the Colony in Egremont Road.

“People would say ‘Ann, I’ve got this letter from the council, how do I reply?’ and she would write down on the back of the letter what they had to say, and tell them to send that in their own handwriting.


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“No one got turned away from her door if they had things she could sort out. She always helped people and stood up for them, and would go down the town hall with the person if they had trouble down there.”

Despite her campaigning, and being the daughter of former Exmouth Urban District Council leader Martha Palmer, Ann did not get involved in council politics until earlier this year, when she stood as a UKIP candidate in the Devon County Council elections.

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Ivan said: “Every one of the parties had asked her to stand for them at one time or another – Labour, the Liberals and the Conservatives – and she said no, I have a family and they come before council work.”

Ann had three children, Debbie, Stephanie and Steve, from her first marriage, who Ivan then adopted, and was the sister of Bill, Jane, and former town councillor Kathleen Bamsey.

She had various jobs, including in the RAF, in a supermarket, in care homes and supervising disabled children, but it was for her campaigning that she will be remembered.

Ivan said: “She was a good mum, a good wife, a ruddy good cook, and she just campaigned for Exmouth.

“She stood for Exmouth how it was and as it should be.”

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