Loss is often best shared and I would like to pay tribute to my colleague and friend the Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP, who sadly died of cancer this week at the age of 68, by describing her to you. Sometimes MPs get a bad rap and it is easy to forget they are real people most often trying to do the best they can, and are not therefore unlike the great majority of their constituents. People might also be interested in knowing more about her as she was very popular and well respected and will be greatly missed on all sides.
Cheryl was an inspiring, brave advocate for her constituents. She spoke formidably and repeatedly against HS2 whose path ran directly through beautiful parts of her Chesham and Amersham constituency in Buckinghamshire, and she worked hard to mitigate its impact which was all too real for those she spoke for. She brought wisdom and authority of experience of Government and life to every conversation, as well as charm, common sense and warmth. She had a mischievous, infectious sense of humour and was quick to bring those with airs and graces down to earth, in a charming way that always hit its mark.
It was a privilege to work with, learn from and get to know her in the Public Administration committee we served on. She was a deep and serious thinker, open to competing points of view though sure of her own, and had a genuine passion for trying to make the process of Government better and more accountable. She was fun to travel with on visits to Canada and Washington, and she loved her dogs and her very dear older husband Jack, looking after them devotedly during his long and difficult illness while juggling all the demands of Parliament even though it made her sad and she was not afraid to show it to those working with her. Sadly she too became ill during this time, more so than many of us knew.
Cheryl was a key part of the “glue” of the Parliamentary Conservative Party being one of the most senior members of the 1922 Committee and always being there and being genuine for MPs new and old, in the Tea Room and around Parliament. In particular she was a fantastic role model for women and demonstrated just how brilliant it is to have women in public life and in authority using all of their talents. It is such a shame we have only been able to interact over Zoom these past months when it would have been so much more appropriate to be able to say goodbye in person to such a great lady.
We have of course also had the tragic news this last week of the loss, all too young, of Yeovil Town Football Club’s captain Lee Collins. Lee was a key figure I sadly did not have the opportunity to get to know but who was obviously also very much loved and respected. The whole Club family and community have been deeply affected by this and we all send his family and friends our deepest sympathy and condolences. I hope we will all do what we can to support his family and the wider YTFC family at this sad time.
As always, if I can be of help or if you would like to contact me on any issue please do call 01935314321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org