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Barrow’s former MP becomes Baron Walney

Baron Walney

Barrow’s former MP has pledged to “be a lifelong champion for our incredible area” after being granted the title Lord Walney by Her Majesty the Queen.

The newly ennobled peer spoke as the Crown office today issued formal notification changing his name from John Woodcock to Baron Walney, of the Isle of Walney, in the county of Cumbria.

Lord Walney will be introduced into the House of Lords later this month after being included in the prime minister’s dissolution honours list published in July.

The independent former MP was expected to follow the customary fashion for people ennobled as life peers by taking the title Lord Woodcock.

But the Queen’s official on heraldic issues, the mysteriously-named Garter Principal King of Arms, granted his request to change his name completely to reflect his affinity to Walney Island, where he has lived since before being first elected in 2010.

The change was today made official as Lord Walney was informed his Letters Patent of Creation has been sealed. (NB it is correct to treat Letters Patent as a singular noun). The letters patent process to ennoble peers of the realm has remained largely unaltered since medieval times.

Lord Walney said: “I am absolutely thrilled to formalise a lifelong association with wonderful Walney that we love and are so proud to call home.

“I will be a lifelong champion for our incredible area and want our community and its elected representatives to see me as a resource they can always call on to speak up for what we need.

“I am also looking forwards to learning the ropes from my friends Lord Cavendish of Furness and Lord Hutton of Furness, who was my predecessor as MP for Barrow. The area now has an unprecedented number of voices in parliament which can be a really good thing.”

Lord Walney, who was active on defence and security issues when he was in the House of Commons, will continue his role as the UK government’s special envoy on countering violent extremism from his new position as an independent peer in the upper chamber of parliament.

But he said he was “itching to get back home” after spending months in London during the pandemic.

“Extra covid precautions have meant we haven’t been travelling with our new baby and largely been stuck in London,” he said. “But we will be back to normal as Jacob gets bigger and people move around more. Issy in particular can’t wait to get to get back to swimming at Sandy Gap.”

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