A FORMER MP was shocked to learn that his constituency residents had launched a campaign to help him pay off his mortgage after he was ousted from his seat in the general election.
Stephen Lloyd was taken aback by the gesture by residents in Eastbourne and Willingdon, whom he had represented in parliament since 2010.
Having failed to reclaim his seat in the May 7 election – losing out to the Conservative candidate Caroline Ansell by just 733 votes – the Liberal Democrat politician gracefully thanked those who supported him in an exit statement made on May 8.
But just days later the politician, who has roots in Co. Mayo and in Belfast, awoke to find a crowdfunding appeal had been launched to pay off his mortgage.
“I woke up on the Monday morning to the extraordinary news that some people had started a crowd-funding appeal to pay off my mortgage, so I'd be able to fight again in 2020,” he explained.
“Good grief, this completely bowled me over,” he added.
“But while deeply touched by their kindness and generosity, I told them there is a better cause we can all support - for the whole town and whatever our political allegiance,” he confirmed.
The former MP asked his supporters to direct their donations to his ongoing campaign to safeguard the future of Eastbourne District General Hospital.
“I believe that our local DGH and community NHS services continue to face real challenges so I've suggested to those wishing to show their support for me, to make a donation to the Save the DGH campaign, of which I have been a part of for many, many years,” he explained.
“The donations will be used for such things as banners, leaflets and advertising to fight for our core services at the DGH,” he added.
So far Mr Lloyd’s supporters have raised more than £1,200 for his campaign – adding £552 to that pot through a special Big Picnic event organised by local residents in Eastbourne in Mr Lloyd’s honour on May 24.
While revealing his plans to continue to support the Save the DGH campaign and the work of the Liberal Democrat party in Eastbourne in the coming years, Mr Lloyd added: “I am proud of what I have achieved locally and nationally in the last five years and will never forget the absolute privilege it was for me to represent Eastbourne and Willingdon as its MP."
“The responses from so many people there since May 7 have been so overwhelmingly kind that I can only accept them with gratitude.”