WANTAGE and Grove's new county councillor might have been a local resident for 20 years, but her background stretches far beyond rural Oxfordshire.

Jane Hanna, who took over the seat following a comfortable Lib Dem hold last month, was born in Belfast and has Irish roots, but lived in various parts of Africa, Scotland and the north of England during her childhood.

After stints in Cambridge and Oxford, she moved to Wantage and 1998 and has stayed ever since.

Trained as a lawyer, Mrs Hanna was the first female fellow at Oxford University's Keble College, where she worked with younger students for five years before moving to Harris Manchester College, where she helped older students.

But, in 1990, her life took a turn when her first partner died suddenly of epilepsy. They were both 27.

She explains: "There was a world view that people didn't die from the condition - that's why I set up my charity."

Now 55, she remains the part time chief executive of SUDEP Action, which works to tackle avoidable epilepsy deaths.

Wantage's Conservative MP, Ed Vaizey, is currently president of the organisation, and Mrs Hanna says - perhaps predictably - that she is keen to get things done regardless of party affiliations.

Health is central to her mission and thanks to her efforts with the charity, she won an OBE in 2010.

As far as Wantage is concerned, Mrs Hanna is heavily involved with the argument around reopening the community hospital, which was 'temporarily shut' in 2016 following a legionella outbreak.

Residents have campaigned heavily on the issue and hundreds marched through the town this summer, in an impressive show of strength.

Mrs Hanna said: "I was at the scrutiny committee on Thursday and I made a proposal, which comes back in February, to call for a specific health overview and scrutiny for Wantage and Grove which is open for the public.

"I am very concerned about the way that whatever is intended for Wantage and Grove is worked up in private."

She concedes that local residents want to see 'deeds not words' but says the next stage in the process needs to be getting all the evidence and debate into the public domain.

As a long time local ("I really enjoy living here", she explains) with expertise in the law and health, she feels she can contribute on the issue.

Discussing health more broadly, she cites northern Spain as a good example of community services working well on a limited budget, which Wantage could learn from.

Having won the seat with nearly 50 per cent of the vote – albeit from a lowly 28 per cent turnout – Mrs Hanna takes over from Lib Dem colleague Zoe Patrick, who was first elected in 2001.

Mrs Hanna hailed her predecessor as a "fantastic example" and said it was an "incredible honour and privilege to have been elected - I will do my best."

But she too has a long-history in public service, having been a district and town councillor previously. Her husband Andrew Crawford is a current town councillor.

She says she would like to stay in the role for as long as the public will keep her there and her family will support her - and thinks success would be having 'little victories' on things constituents bring up with her, like a road issue near the Grove Airfield development, which she has already raised.

When asked about the big issues in the area, she name checks overpopulation, roads, health and enforcement, but says that she has learnt on the doorstep 'not to promise that we can solve the world's problems.'

She adds: “I should like to thank the local community for putting their trust in me. I am under no illusion that there will be real challenges ahead, especially in dealing with local infrastructure issues generated by new developments in the area and in ensuring our community gets the best possible outcome for local services.

Mrs Hanna has two children, one of which is grown up, and outside of work is a massive fan of book clubs ("they're fantastic") spending time with family and friends, and 'getting outside to enjoy some fresh air'.

Born as the middle child among three sisters, she feels very lucky to have a supportive family and thinks that is a vital pillar to society.

She has promised to continue to hold monthly surgeries with fellow Lib Dem councillor Jenny Hannaby, but has urged residents to contact her about urgent issues.