Councillor Cockburn was first elected as a representative for The Bourne in 2001 after a long and varied career in education, and has fought tirelessly to ensure Farnham retains its unique character over the past two decades.
She has led the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan working group since 2011 – steering the community-led planning blueprint through years of consultation with residents and higher authorities, a High Court legal challenge and two referendums, all to give Farnham a greater say in the planning process.
Cllr Cockburn has a reputation as a person to ‘get things done’ and leads by example, never shying away from the less glamorous jobs – standing in the rain at community events, litter picking and weeding ahead of Farnham In Bloom, and representing the town at week-long planning appeals, to name a few.
In addition to her role as a town and borough councillor, she is also a former governor at King Edward’s Witley, and Barrow Hills School in Godalming, as well as a trustee of The Ridgeway School Charitable Trust and The Woodlarks Centre in Farnham, chairman of the St Martin’s Hall Charitable Trust, among others.
In recognition of these efforts, she was made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) last Friday, for services to local government and the community in Farnham.
But she almost missed out entirely.
Cllr Cockburn told the Herald: “I deleted the first email – I thought it was spam!
“The award of the BEM was a total surprise,” she added.
“The award is shared, of course, by all the residents’ associations, community groups, businesses and individuals who have worked with me over the past 20 years or so on planning documents!
“Their support continues to this day, as we refresh the Farnham Design Statement.
“The residents do all the hard work and I am merely the editor in chief!
“Both documents continue to play their part in planning and appeal decisions.
“Several policies in the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan are proving to be very effective and demonstrate the Development Plan can protect local character and promote good design.
“There is more to be done, of course, and my enthusiasm for fighting Farnham’s corner remains undiminished, thank goodness!”
Roger Bradley, a member of The Farnham Society, said: “Carole battled on and on to get the Neighbourhood Plan over the line, not once but twice, and she has fought tirelessly to defend Farnham against a planning inspectorate interested only in houses, not people and what they feel.
“It is largely down to her that Farnham remains a thriving ‘community’, rather than just a ‘place’, and she is on a par with John Verney to my mind.
“I am delighted her years of hard work have at last been recognised.”