Baroness Shirley Williams in conversation with Judith Bunting

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I’m just back from a hugely enjoyable evening at New Greenham Arts, near Newbury. It was the “Going for Gold” interview with Baroness Shirley Williams by Judith Bunting, Liberal Democrat PPC for Newbury. As usual, Shirley was supremely knowledgeable, eloquent and passionate. A real inspiration, who drew many entralled non-LibDems to the evening.

Thinking it might be an urban myth, or something I dreamt, with some trepidation I asked Shirley if it was true that she was second in line to star in the film National Velvet. She confirmed this enthusiastically and gave us the full story of how it happened. She was sent by her parents to the USA for three years, in the wake of the Nazis coming to power in Germany. The film’s producers asked film critics to choose one child for each region of the USA to go forward for the role. They were looking for a fair haired girl of 11 to 13 years old with an English accent and manner. Shirley was put forward by the critics of the US Mid West and came second to Elizabeth taylor for the role.

We also found out that Shirley ran with Roger Bannister, doing a five minute mile herself, while he was somewhat ahead with a four minute mile, of course.

Shirley gave us her very acute views on subjects such as NHS reform, the House of Lords, press reform, secret service surveillance, education, women in politics etc etc.

A fantastic evening. Well done to Judith Bunting for organising and hosting it.

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