Who am I?
After twenty years as a Tandridge District Councillor and thirteen as a Parish Councillor I find myself one of the 81 County Councillors.
I’m in opposition, as I have been for most of that time; there are 61 Conservatives at County. I suppose most of my life has been about challenging, bringing a different perspective, trying to make things fairer. I have led the Opposition at Tandridge for a number of years.
My family were lower middle class who worked hard to give me and my brother opportunities. It seemed to work; my brother has been listed in the top 100 world CEOs. I got a first at Cambridge and went into teaching rather than an academic career. I toyed with a career in advertising, publishing or journalism. In the end, I decided that I wanted to enable children from poorer or inner city backgrounds to get on as well as I did.
I became a Head Teacher at 38. A large secondary school serving a very mixed community had been all I wanted.
Which leads me to the other issue in my life.
From the age of 12 I had suffered from depression. It had dogged my life but I had hidden it. It had certainly spoiled lots of opportunities and, terrified of the stigma, I buried it when I could. But when I was working at a school in Inner London I had to prevent a group of intruders getting into the school; they held me against a wall with a kebab knife to my neck and I was in fear for my life.
Seven years later a series of flashbacks and night terrors finished my career; I was hospitalised, albeit briefly, and had to take ill health retirement.
After a slow process (years) I was able to join the Board of a Trust serving people with mental health and learning disabilities. I had a taste for a fight back.
I became a District Councillor and later started working for the NHS, eventually becoming a Programme Director. I retired from the latter when Primary Care Trusts were abolished in 2013 and then worked as a management consultant. I retired to stand as a County Councillor.
I serve this year on the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee and fighting for children’s mental health and well-being will be a focus for my work.