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Tributes (Speaker Weatherill)

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:56 pm on 10th May 2007.

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Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Conservative, Congleton 12:56 pm, 10th May 2007

I should like to pay my own very brief personal tribute to the late Speaker Weatherill. I was one of the cohort of 1983, among many colleagues who are in the House today. I well remember sitting almost diagonally opposite at the time when Jack Weatherill, as we all knew him, was dragged to the Chair. He was indeed a gentleman in the true sense of the word and was very much respected. He had a depth to him that at first, perhaps, people did not realise, and he had an independence of character. He was personally extremely kind, and opened up Speaker's House to Members on both sides of the House and their families. I remember going to Speaker's House on many occasions and meeting Mrs. Speaker, as she was known—Lady Weatherill. I would like to express my deepest sympathy to her and her family on their great loss.

At one of those informal occasions, I was able to say to Mr. Speaker Weatherill that we had in fact met many years previously. When I was about 11, I won an award at the Royal Windsor horse show for best rider in one of the show pony classes. The prize was a pair of jodhpurs to be made by, I think, Bernard Weatherill Ltd. So I was taken by my father by train to London—a big day out—and went to this very smart tailor's emporium, where I met Jack Weatherill. I told him that I still had that small pair of jodhpurs with buckskin strappings, which we had in those days, how very proud I was of them, and how they had done stalwart service. He was extremely pleased by that story. The fact that he carried a thimble in his pocket for the rest of life to remind him of what he was showed the character of the man. He will be greatly missed. He was a great man who was much loved, and the tributes that have been paid today bear out those comments.