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Essex: Margaret Thatcher held county dear to her heart after taking first job in Manningtree

PUBLISHED: 10:02 09 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:02 09 April 2013

Lady Margaret Thatcher planting a tree in the grounds of St Osyth Priory.

Lady Margaret Thatcher planting a tree in the grounds of St Osyth Priory.

AFTER graduating from university, the late Margaret Thatcher spent two years in north Essex where she embarked on her career as a chemist.

In 1947, Margaret Roberts as she was then known, was recruited as a research chemist at BX Plastics in Manningtree.

Each day she would catch the bus from her lodgings in Colchester to travel to work where she remained for two years.

During a Conservative dance in the town, the young Margaret introduced her sister Muriel to Great Oakley farmer Billy Cullen.

The pair later married and Mrs Thatcher would regularly return to the area to visit her sister.

Following the news of her death yesterday, Essex MPs paid tribute to the Iron Lady. Harwich and North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin said: “Margaret Thatcher was a huge political figure. Much of what people enjoy and take for granted today we owe to Mrs Thatcher. She will always be revered as a woman of principle with iron determination, even by those who disagree with her.

“People forget that everyone thought Britain was finished in the 1970s, until she became prime minister. Her premiership was about far more than defeating General Galtieri and the old trade unions. It was about restoring national self-belief.”

Mr Jenkin said he grew close to Baroness Thatcher in later years and she attended his 50th birthday party as well as supporting his election campaigns.

He added: “She was surprisingly humble. She was always very embarrassed by too much praise. She always said she could never have achieved anything on her own. She became, and will remain, a British icon for future generations, both at home and abroad.”

Witham MP Priti Patel said Baroness Thatcher would be “missed around the world”. “Baroness Thatcher was an inspirational leader who dedicated herself to the service of this country,” she said. “She was a principled politician whose many achievements are unprecedented. At home and abroad Baroness Thatcher stood up for freedom and democracy and she will be fondly remembered.

“My heartfelt condolences and thoughts are with the Thatcher family today and she will be missed in Britain and throughout the world.” Maldon MP John Whittingdale, who was political secretary to the Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister, said: “It is with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Margaret Thatcher. She will be remembered as one of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers.

“Under her leadership, the prospects of this country were transformed and Britain’s reputation in the eyes of the world was restored. However, for those of us who worked closely with her, we will remember her as someone who inspired huge loyalty as a result of her personal kindness and compassion. I will always regard it as the greatest privilege to have worked for her and today mourn the passing of a great prime minister and a great lady.”

Family a bedrock – Pages 8&9

Firefighters worked overnight to quell the flames of a blaze involving 500 tonnes of straw on farmland between Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket.

A man in his late 20s has been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving after he crashed his car in Ipswich.

A woman in her 30s was rushed to hospital after two men dressed in black hoodies threw a mystery liquid into her face during a “random” attack.

The family of Corrie McKeague will today be out on the streets of Bury St Edmunds talking to members of the public to mark the year anniversary of his disappearance.

A teenager who had to be freed from the wreckage of a car by firefighters following a crash in Essex today is fighting for his life in hospital.

As the deadline for Stars of Suffolk nominations approaches, organiser Mick Parker is looking ahead to the “emotional and wonderful” annual ceremony that brings together the county’s unsung heroes for one night of celebration.

An 18-year-old woman who went missing from her home in Essex has been found safe.

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