Iron Lady showed a softer side on visit

Bradbury Lodge Opening by Dame M Thatcher
Bradbury Lodge Opening by Dame M Thatcher

THE softer side of the Iron Lady was recalled this week by Heyshott-based charity Canine Partners, after Baroness Thatcher, who died this week, visited their headquarters in 2009.

Chief executive Andy Cook, then director of operations, remembered her visit: “It was a blazing hot summer’s day and the purpose of her visit was to officially open the newly-converted accommodation block.

“Lady Thatcher was strongly drawn towards the various Canine Partners dogs in attendance, and observed the new recruits being trained to open and unload washing machines, pull emergency alarm cords and more besides.

“A golden retriever-cross-poodle, Doyle, was a big hit as he presented the Baroness with a posy of flowers.

“Likewise, in brief respite from the strong sunshine, Lady Thatcher singled out labradoodle Saffy for a quiet cuddle.”

Sir Geoffrey Pattie, who lives in Duncton, served for eight years in Margaret Thatcher’s first two administrations – initially as defence minister and then as the technology minister.

This week he told the Observer: “She was the most remarkable leader that any minister could possible have. She had courage and determination and she was a woman of principle, which made it so much easier for the rest of her team who didn’t feel they were having to reset the moral compass every week.”

Nick Herbert, MP for Petworth, said: I was in my first job as a young researcher for the Conservative Party when, the day after our vote collapsed in two by-elections, the Prime Minister came to Conservative central office to steady the ship.

“It was 1986 and Mrs Thatcher, at the height of her powers, had already won two general elections. But the government was behind in the polls. She announced we would not only win the next election – we did, in 1987 – but the one after that, too... we did, in 1992, if without her.”