Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The deaths of local Maurice Reed and Lady Thatcher cast a shadow over this week

Today I am in Hexham Abbey for the funeral of the former Hexham Mart Chief, Maurice Reed. It will be packed and rightly so. Maurice was one of the most prominent figures in the Tynedale world these last 50 years - a countryman to his boots, an auctioneer, and mastermind of the move of the Hexham Mart from the town centre to Tyne Green. He also was a leading figure in the navigation of the crisis that was BSE.
I did not know him till later in his life but he was immensely kind to me, particularly in 2008-2009 when I was the candidate, giving me advice, support and always willing to help. We will remember him and give him a good send off today.
Then on Monday we learnt that Lady Thatcher had passed away. I met several times in her later years, but was a child when she came to power. When I did meet her you were struck - even in her later years - by both her formidable intellect and her declining health. Even though her health has not been good for at least 5 years, when she was on form she could still fix you with a steely gaze, and urge you to action like no one else I have ever met.  She loved her husband deeply and missed him terribly after his death. My thoughts and prayers are with her family of children and grandchildren who will mourn her. 
I am not going south for the return of parliament today - I have the Abbey service, followed this afternoon at 3pm by a long booked meeting with local GPs, which we have tried to organise for nearly 10 weeks, and then 3 surgery appointments in Hexham this evening.