Born in 1895 she served constituents of Tyneside for a total of 38 years. She campaigned for widows (her mother was widowed and left impoverished when she was just 5), ex-servicemen and single parents throughout her lifetime. She was at the forefront of campaigns for equal pay and employment rights for women nationwide. She also championed the first woman Hansard reporter who had been refused equal pay to her male colleagues and with other key figures helped the first woman reporter in the parliamentary press gallery be re-instated after losing her job on becoming pregnant.
In addition, Irene Ward campaigned for women to be allowed to work in the House of Commons library. When it was argued women wouldn’t be able to carry the ladders needed to reach the higher shelves, Irene marched through the corridors carrying a ladder – making sure photos ended up in the press, and she won that one too.*
* From The Honourable Ladies, Profiles of Women MPs 1918-1986 edited by Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith.
I had the satisfaction of building a business from the ground up and selling it to my nearest competitor so, when I was ready for another challenge, I wanted one that would make a real and lasting difference to people’s lives. The role of Police and Crime Commissioner gives a voice to victims of unseen crimes and enables me to help make my county a safer place to live and work.
After being elected for the first time in 2012, it wasn’t long before I became the victim of an obsessive stalker and I was able to see for myself the lack of awareness and understanding of this insidious crime by the criminal justice system. I became very determined to drive a change in Sussex and nationally so that other victims didn’t come up against the same problems I was experiencing.
Now in Sussex we have a police force that is leading the field in understanding and responding to stalking. Sussex was the first force in the country to secure stalking protection orders and we have the most experienced and effective stalking support services for victims.
I have secured funding for ground-breaking behavioural change programmes for stalkers to address their obsessive behaviour and a county-wide campaign (Do The Right Thing) that encourages men to challenge misogyny and abusive behaviour towards women.
Local people want a reassuring visible police presence and Sussex now has 137 more police officers than when I was first elected 10 years ago. I am proud to say that I am now the longest-serving female PCC and it’s seeing these real tangible changes and improvements that continues to drive me forwards.
I started out in politics stuffing envelopes at my local Conservative Association before going on to be a councillor in the London Borough of Merton from 1986 to 1994. In 1997 I was elected as MP for Maidenhead. I was a member of the Shadow Cabinet from 1999 to 2010, and from 2002 to 2003 was the first female Chairman of the Conservative Party. In 2010 I was appointed Home Secretary, and during this time oversaw reductions in crime, reform of the police, and the introduction of the landmark Modern Slavery Act.
Following my election as Leader of the Conservative Party, I became Prime Minister in July 2016. As Prime Minister, I oversaw the largest ever cash boost to the NHS and the largest expansion of mental health services in a generation; launched a 25-Year Environment Plan and introduced legislation to end the UK’s contribution to global warming entirely; published a Modern Industrial Strategy to ensure that the jobs of the future are created across the whole country not just in London; and established the first ever Race Disparity Audit to shine a light on injustices.
Becoming an MP was always a long-term ambition of mine. I had been involved in various local campaigns for many years, but with a five-year-old daughter, I didn’t expect I would throw my hat into the ring until she was much older. It was however a personal tragedy that eventually pushed me to put my name forward. I wanted to channel my heartbreak and experience into something positive. I sadly lost a baby quite late on into my pregnancy, and whilst the initial support I received was second to none, there is a point where the care seemed to drop off. I wanted to use this experience to make a real change for families who experience babyloss – which is still a relatively taboo subject.
That is why since being elected to my Truro and Falmouth seat, I took a place on the APPG for Babyloss. I now chair that group and have spoken numerous times on the subject, initiated debates and used my position to raise awareness with the government on issues affecting those who experience babyloss – particularly women. I think that anyone who has had a life changing experience, be that good or bad, can use it as a driving force to help them make real change. I’m so glad I did.
My political journey has taken me from a council estate in Carlisle to a career in law, to becoming the first Black female Conservative MP and Minister, and now the PM’s Special Envoy for Girls Education. Since becoming an MP, I’ve always been inspired by issues that I feel connected to – and have been able to let that drive me to push for important changes along the way. I was one of the ministers responsible for taking the historic ‘Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013’ through Parliament, and as Minister for Sport and Tourism I championed the growth of women and girls’ participation in sport in the UK, driving a similar agenda for people from diverse and under-represented communities.
My Nigerian roots have also helped me to feel a strong personal connection to my recent work as the PM’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria and as Special Envoy for Girls Education. I was able to support the drive for economic growth by building on the UK’s existing relations with Nigeria, the country where my father was born and raised. And I have more recently been able to lead the UK’s efforts internationally to ensure all girls get 12 years of quality education – an issue which is incredibly close to my heart. One of my goals is to drive a global campaign to improve learning and get 40 million more girls into school around the world by 2025. My advice to anyone wishing to do the same? Draw on your own experiences and use them to connect you to the changes you want to make.
I had always been a supporter of my local Association and happy to work where needed, helping and supporting my husband, John, who was a County and District Councillor as well as Association Chairman. When John died suddenly, I wanted to continue the excellent work he’d been doing as a Councillor and for the Party. I stood for election and was elected, in 2015, to Mid Sussex District Council; and I’m now the Cabinet Member for Customer Services.
I am a huge believer in the strength of our communities, and what we can achieve through working together. I am Chair of Haywards Heath Town Team, a Governor at three schools and help to organise both the district-wide STEM Challenge for senior schools and colleges, and the Town’s annual bike ride for local charities. Getting involved, making things happen and helping others is my motivation and why I enjoy being a Councillor. I’m a do-er rather than a talk-er!
I began this journey 14 years after I arrived in the UK, having fled North Korea. I had lost family, was a victim of human trafficking, and had been in a labour camp. But the strength that kept me alive was the determination to never lose my family again. I was welcomed in Britain, have learnt about politics and freedom and I pledged that I would repay the British people for welcoming me.
Winston Churchill said that "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen". I am lucky to receive another gift from the British people who taught me that we not only have the right to be happy, but that we also have a duty for the happiness of others – just like us overcoming misfortune, that's why I want to stand up and be a local councillor. I want to help others and repay the kindness Britain has shown me.
I had been a sleeping member of the Conservative Party for many years. I was never interested in Politics at school nor at University but always ticked that blue box! I was a Solicitor, working in the Civil Service for both the CPS and HMRC Solicitor’s Office. The last 12 years I have been the primary carer to my two daughters. I was asked by the Campaign Manager of my Association if I would stand, and after a close run campaign I was elected on May 5th, with my first council meeting on May 6th!
Since then, I have been promoting the conservation of trees. 81 trees with Tree Protection Orders (TPO) were felled Jan-Sept 2021 which is dreadful, and I am lobbying that only diseased or dangerous trees are felled. I’ve also highlighted the English nesting season to the council and am now campaigning to expand the TPO Register in Knutsford to help protect our trees. My next campaign is to promote a “100% Compostable Knutsford”- where all single use take -away “plastic” in the town is biodegradable.
During WW1 Florence worked in the Ministry of Munitions canteen where she devised a network of travelling kitchens which helped to feed the starving population. Following the war, Dundee Association, having heard her public speaking asked her to be their candidate and she won. The constituency’s first female MP in a city that had not yet elected a female councillor.
During WW2 she organised the evacuation of 1.5million women and children. She was also responsible for the health and sanitation of London’s underground shelters, and she re-structured the British Civil Nursing Reserve. In early 1944, she began the preparatory work on the early NHS, and in 1945 participated in a conference which would create the United Nations. In 1950 she was appointed Minister for Education, the first Conservative female Cabinet Minister.*
* From The Honourable Ladies, Profiles of Women MPs 1918-1986 edited by Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith.
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