IT WAS the shock of the election — Isle of Wight Council leader Dave Stewart losing his ward seat to the Green Party's Claire Critchison.

So who is this new face on the council, what's her background and what are her hopes for the Island?

Residents of Chale, Niton and Shorwell would have been familiar with Claire and her family — after all, they've lived in the area for at least six generations!

She grew up in Chale village and attended Chale Primary School, St Andrew's Church and Chale Methodist Church, and has been involved in village events as well as the youth club in Shorwell and Brownies in Niton.

She now lives in Niton with her husband Eric and their two children, who attend Niton Primary School — where Claire is chair of the fundraising committee.

Claire said: "I have been overwhelmed by the response from residents during my campaign and as the results show, they had faith in me to be their choice.

"Getting Green votes shows we appeal to many people from all sides of political spectrum, putting local communities first.

"As a true local I understand the area. I have always been very much involved with the community through charity groups and carnival committees."

Claire is no stranger to the work of the Isle of Wight Council, having worked in several departments over 15 years, including leisure services, events and tourism.

For the past ten years she has run her own wedding planning and catering business, Claire’s Kitchen, specialising in afternoon tea and vintage style weddings.

She said: "This was the perfect business to run while I had small children to bring up and needed flexibility.

"As an active member of Niton Methodist Church I plan to continue to cook community lunches and run fundraising activities such as village Easter egg hunts and cake sales, once we are able to meet in groups again.

"I was first attracted to a political future when invited to join a group promoting more women in politics.

"This gave me a taste of how much it was needed for women to be represented at council level.

"I have always been interested in greener ways of living so representing the IW Green Party was my natural choice.

"From being a community champion and speaking up for local issues, I enjoy being part of Island life and I represent the residents not to my own agenda, but to get the best outcomes for all.

"I have listened to their concerns and I will be putting their wishes first.

"I work well with others regardless of their political alliances and as part of the Green Team we look forward to working in harmony with other councillors to make the best choices."

Dave Stewart won 636 votes, to Claire's 876.

He has already wished Claire well.

"This is the start of her career as an Isle of Wight councillor and I wish well her with it," he said.