With the very sad news of the passing of Lady Thatcher I felt it only apt that I should pen just a few of my personal memories as I was privileged and honoured to meet and work for the Great Lady over the years.

Every time I was in her presence whether it was a reception, dinner or private meeting the hairs on the back of my neck would twitch as I always knew that I was in the presence of probably the greatest peace time Prime Minister of the 20th Century! There always appeared to be like a spiritual presence as she entered, as the room fell quiet, all eyes would turned in awe of just seeing her, being in her presence, let alone meeting her!! Just watching peoples reaction to her as she worked the room with her handbag always on her arm engaging with all she met and giving them each person individually her full attention.

She had the ability of making all feel important and that she wanted to hear what they had to say. Never rushing around the room or rushing anyone with whom she was talking to, savouring each meeting, each encounter, loving the questions, enjoying each and every minute of it. It kept her alive, mixing with the people she had made such a difference to, people who loved her and never wanted her to leave. Everyone who met her were left with fond memories, hanging on her every word, and to them it left a dinner conversation piece which will last for their lifetime as they relived that moment to their family and friends. Such was her impact on everyday people in our Country.

I have remembered and reflected over our conversations and questions during this sad time and I have to say, although sad now to think I will never be in her presence again, I am honoured that I had the chance to meet her and to work for her on the Executive of Conservative Way Forward.

I once asked her when discussing the 1979 Vote of No Confidence of the Labour Government which she won by 1 vote! “Did you ever know, who it was that cast that winning vote” she leant back into the settee we were sitting on “ Why, ME of course, whoever did you think it could have been other than me” with a wry smile of all knowing, such was the quick thinking brain that had out witted so many people over the years.

At a reception late in her years, I asked her “When you coming back”? She roared with laughter as only she could leaning back as she laughed, handbag never dare to move on her arm, she then stopped laughing leaned forward grabbed my arm pulled me towards her and whispered in my ear “I have never left” she winked and moved on.

I have also experienced the “Stare” for when I once said something out of turn and not to her liking. This sent shivers down my spine and I thought I would be turned into a pillar of salt at least. I felt the blood draining from me, welded to the spot, fearful even to move, then I received the dismissive wave of her hand to go away, fortunately for me not for good. It was at that moment I understood the title The Iron Lady. For up to that time I had only seen the dismissive wave of the back of hand to other people, strangely enough most of them to shadow and now Cabinet Ministers.

In her latter years of attending receptions which was then only for a short while I had the honour of being her drink bearer, following at a set distance behind waiting for her to beckon for her drink but, always with a please and thank you, such was her Grace and gratitude. She would also engage with the reception staff and thank them too.

When discussing the 2010 General Election in the July of that year at a closed meeting, the question was asked “Which would you have chosen to do, Coalition or run a minority Government” The answer delivered leaning forward at the desk “ Neither, I wouldn’t have LOST”
My proudest moment was when I received a summons to come up to an undisclosed address in Westminster, I tried to ask some questions to find out some more information, but was told it was in my interest to be available and I would be contacted by 1600hrs on the day which was then from the time of the phone call a few days away. I pondered in my mind as to what it could be and with whom I would be meeting! The days seem to drag, and then I received a phone call with a meeting point and a time, but still no real idea as to what it was about or indeed who it was I would be meeting. So I arrived at the meeting point to find someone I knew who gave me an address which was only a few minutes walk from the House. So off I went even more bemused and confused by still not having any idea what was actually happening. When I arrived at the door, the door opened as I approached and I was beckoned in and taken to reception room. Upon entering I saw 4 other people, 3 of which I knew and approached them taking a drink as one does as I walked in. I asked what did they know, but they too were in the dark. After about 15 mins the door was closed only to be opened about a minute later by some man who I know now to be a personal security guard and as he opened the door wide the Great Lady herself walked in, the shock and surprise for all of us was immense. She engaged in conversation with us collectively for about 10 mins and then left the room. What happened next was beyond my wildest dream, each one of us was asked to go and have a private audience with her in the sitting room. I was ecstatic with disbelief of being afforded this opportunity. The meeting was for about 10 mins where we discussed varied issues and she questioned me more than I had the chance to ask her anything really. It was during this time she spoke my name when asking me something, how I melted as I sat with her still in disbelief of being of even being there, but to use my name. This is when she gave me her personal endorsement to carry on the fight for “Thatcherism within the Conservative Party”. We sat close to each other; she held my hand and leant her other hand on my arm as she instructed me as to her thoughts. I was in my element and shock as she spoke openly to me about certain things. The conversation ended on an even higher note for me if this was ever possible, for as the last instruction was uttered before my dismissal, as she still held my hand and tapped my arm as she spoke, she finished with “There is NO Alternative” How proud I was and immensely privileged to have been granted this time and her endorsement. No matter what else I ever achieve in politics, nothing will ever be able to beat this moment in my life and now it can never be taken away.

I have many more memories of times which I was privileged to spend in her presence, some at a distance and some at her side. But, I will never forget my promise to her which is to work from within the Conservative Party to see her beliefs of Enterprise, Freedom, Choice, Community, Nationhood, Deregulation, Security, Capitalism and Democracy firmly in front of each and every decision I am apart of and to strive to see working Conservative Majority Governments


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