Shirley studied Fashion Drawing and Dress Design and worked as Display Manager for a fashion company. She completed her BA degree in Interdisciplinary Arts with the Open University in 1997. She has lived in Cirencester for 32 years.
Shirley became Town and District councillor in 1999 and served the town as Mayor in 2001-03 and 2007-09. Shirley has been a trustee of The Bingham Library trust for 12 years and a member of the board of trustees of NBA for three years and is chair of the Arts and Education committee.