Ann Widdecombe waltzes in for a chat

Dorset Echo: STAR SPEAKER: Ann Widdecombe with Lynda Curson, Sue Kennedy and Shirley Williams STAR SPEAKER: Ann Widdecombe with Lynda Curson, Sue Kennedy and Shirley Williams

NOVELIST, former politician and TV personality Ann Widdecombe wowed the audience as star speaker at Uplyme village hall.

More than 120 people flocked to the talk and open meeting on Wednesday, July 9, which was organised by the Uplyme Women’s Institute.

Ann Widdecombe spoke on various topics from her first ever job marketing at Unilever, her time as a British Conservative Party politician, MP, Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Secretary of State for health, her retirement from politics in 2010 and her time on Strictly Come Dancing later the same year.

She told the audience: “If anyone had said to me after I left Westminster in 2010 that I would be on a TV dancing show, be in a pantomime and then perform at London’s Royal Opera House – I would have told them to lie down and take an aspirin.”

Ann, who has been a novelist since 2000, also signed various copies of her books.

After the talk, she answered questions including what she felt proud of, or wished she hadn’t taken through parliament, what happened to her Strictly Come Dancing dresses following the show, why she chose Dartmoor to retire to, which TV programme she would like to host if given the choice and more.

Ann added: “I wish I hadn’t taken changes to gun law after the Dunblane school massacre through parliament, that was more of a political neccessity.

“But I am proud of what I did to help the disabled, and wished I had progressed other matters such as pro life measures further.

“I chose Dartmoor to live because I spent a lot of time in Cornwall as a child and knew I wanted to retire in Dartmoor. I was much happier coming out of London towards the country than vice versa.

“I would like to host Songs of Praise if I had a choice of any TV programme.”

Organisers said everyone was welcome to attend the afternoon, which was followed by refreshments and a raffle.

Sue Kennedy from Uplyme WI said: “We had a total of 130 people attend who seemed to really enjoy the talk, which was just fantastic.

“It was incredibly exciting and a real privilege for us to have Ann here in person in Uplyme for the meeting, and we want to say a huge thank you to her.

“This really was a chance of a lifetime; we went to a meeting where Ann was the guest speaker and that’s where this whole idea originated from.”

Ann told the Echo: “The meeting was a great experience and I’d certainly come back and speak again. It was a brilliant turn out, I was only expecting 30 people at the most so 130 was brilliant.”

The Uplyme WI meet at the village hall every second Wednesday of the month, apart from August.

Those interested in joining are asked to call Sue on 01297 444973 or Lynda Curson on 01297 32506.

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