Liberal Democrat Peer Shirley Williams has been made a Companion of Honour in the 2017 New Year's Honours for services to political and public life stretching back more than half a century.

Baroness Williams, who was one of the original "Gang of Four", broke away from a Trotskyite-infiltrated Labour Party to form the Social Democratic Party in 1981.

She supported the merger of the SDP-Liberal Alliance into the party now known as the Liberal Democrats.

Baroness Williams led an incredibly distinguished career, becoming known as an expert in Eastern European democracies during the collapse of the Soviet Union. She retired from the House of Lords in 2016, after more than 50 years of devotion to the people.

The Companions of Honour are a select group of the United Kingdom's most distinguished and respected individuals, limited at just 65 members. Other notable members include the world's most renowned scientist Professor Stephen Hawking, celebrated naturalist Sir David Attenborough, and national acting treasure Dame Judi Dench.

Councillor Neil Darby said,

"It's fantastic to see Baroness Williams recognised for her unyielding service to the British people.

"She has dedicated her life to improving the lives of others, not only in the United Kingdom, but also in Eastern Europe, where she worked to support emerging democracies following the fall of communism.

"Such people are one in a million and the Liberal Democrats are truly blessed to have such a devoted woman in our party."

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