THE news this week has been dominated by the death of Margaret Thatcher.

As someone who had the privilege of meeting the former PM on numerous occasions, I have many lasting memories of her.

The first time I met her was in my late teens at a Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth.

Not only did she take the time to stand and ask about me, she had the effect of making you feel as though you were the only person in the room.

I owe much to Margaret Thatcher. Coming from a working class background in Scotland I would never have been able to attend a private school had it not been for the assisted places scheme she introduced.

I still come across many constituents who went to some of the excellent private schools we have on the Fylde coast as a result of this policy.

To reach the heights she did as a woman was truly breathtaking, particularly when the House of Commons was much more of a male dominated world as it was in the 1970s.

During her time as Prime Minister she rescued Great Britain from the brink of bankruptcy by never shying away from the difficult decisions.

Her policies on monetary and fiscal prudence, the detachment of trade unions from national affairs and a reduction in the role of the state were the cornerstones of a Government which secured wealth and prosperity for Great Britain for years after she left office.

When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982, a lesser Prime Minister would have hesitated before sending a military task force to reclaim the British territory. But the Argentine military junta had not taken Mrs Thatcher’s resolve into account.

That same steely determination became her hallmark and reinstated Britain’s place in world affairs.

I was please the speaker and the Prime Minister agreed to recall Parliament on Wednesday and made sure I was there to pay my respects.

This week, it has been humbling to hear from people who served in her Government about what that important time meant to them.

When she came to power, Mrs Thatcher was left a country on the downward slide and turned it into a nation which was proud to be British again.

In my eyes she was our greatest ever Prime Minister and her death will be mourned by many.

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