Joan "Penny" Ewens, Honorary Alderman and former Leeds City Councillor, has died at the age of 94. Her maiden name was Penwill which gave rise to the name Penny at her Liverpool school to differentiate her from five other Joans in the same class. She served in the Intelligence Corps during the war and met her future husband, David Ewens, on VE day in London. They were married soon afterwards. David's job brought them to Leeds in 1960 and, as a mature student, she enrolled at the James Graham Teacher Training College. After a spell at the Kitson College she settled into a long career at West Park High School where she took a particular interest in careers and in drama.
Always an activist she was involved in a number of campaigning organisations including "Families need fathers". Even after she and David separated she maintained a cottage in North Wales from where took her children sailing. Later, after the children had moved on, she would "borrow" other friends' children in order to carry on sailing. Having spent one holiday driving across Europe she then collected her son who was an aid worker in Botswana and they drove around the Okavango delta. This sparked a lifelong interest in Africa and she returned there whenever possible.
Typically, once having got involved with the Liberal party in the 1980s, Penny soon became a Leeds City Council candidate. She contested the Weetwood ward at eight consecutive elections finally coming within 114 votes of victory. Feeling that she had gone as far as she could, and having reached the age of 70, she felt that a new face was needed and "retired." Inevitably, inactivity did not suit her and in 2003, after a seven year gap, and at the age of 77, she took on a new challenge fighting a Labour held ward in the inner city. The following year she gained the Hyde and Woodhouse seat, taking two Liberal Democrat colleagues on with her. She served two four year terms only retiring in 2012 at the age of 85. Whilst a councillor she was involved with a number of local organisations including, the Cardigan Centre, Swarthmore Education Centre and the Little London Community Association. She was made an Honorary Alderman of the city in 2017. She died on 5th December 2020.
She leaves a daughter, Victoria, a son, Max, and a number of grandchildren and great grand children.