Dick Cole is celebrating his 20th year as leader of Mebyon Kernow after being elected at its national conference in October 1997.

Two decades on, Cllr Cole continues to be a prominent public figure who is still at the helm of MK and serving his local parish of St Enoder on the unitary authority.

Speaking on behalf of MK’s ruling National Executive, deputy leader Cllr Loveday Jenkin said: “Dick’s long-standing commitment to Cornwall and its people is extraordinary. He has been at the heart of so many campaigns and it is truly remarkable that he has found so much energy to battle for Cornish communities over such a significant period of time.

“It is inspiring how hard he has worked as the leader of Mebyon Kernow and as a proactive local councillor. We are extremely proud of the work that he has done pushing for meaningful devolution to Cornwall, fair funding for Cornwall and its public services, as well as his interventions on a host of planning, housing and other matters.

“It is disappointing that so much of MK’s pro-Cornwall agenda has not found favour with the other political parties in Cornwall and Westminster, but we are determined to continue to campaign with Dick to secure a better deal for one and all in Cornwall.”

Over the years, Dick has been at the forefront of numerous campaigns for a better deal for Cornwall, its communities, economy and environment.

A life-long advocate for greater self-government for Cornwall, Dick wrote the Declaration for a Cornish Assembly, which was launched by MK in 2000, signed by over 50,000 people and presented to 10 Downing Street in December 2001.

He was the founding vice-chairman of the cross-party Cornish Constitutional Convention, and one of the spokespeople for the Keep Cornwall Whole campaign group which campaigned against the imposition of a 'Devonwall' parliamentary constituency.

He has also been involved with a wide range of campaigns on planning and housing matters, including pushing for a more sustainable housing target and a stronger focus on the delivery of genuine affordable housing for local families.

First elected to Restormel Borough Council in 1999, he was re-elected in 2003 and 2007. During this time, he balanced his civic duties with his work as an archaeologist at Cornwall County Council. When Cornwall Council was created in 2009, Dick stood down from his employment, so that he would be able to stand for the new authority. He was subsequently elected in 2009, 2013 and 2017.

In the most recent local election from earlier this year, he polled 1,090 votes, which equated to a vote share of 83 per cent. His majority of 947 was the largest achieved by any candidate in Cornwall, and this was his fifth consecutive local election contest in which he polled over 75 per cent of the vote.