Prime minister leads tributes after death of Lady Tebbit at Suffolk home

Lord and Lady Tebbit

Lord and Lady Tebbit at their home in Bury St Edmunds shortly after moving to the town in 2009. - Credit: Archant

Lady Margaret Tebbit, the wife of former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Norman Tebbit,  has died at her Suffolk home at the age of 86.

Their lives were shattered in the IRA Brighton bombing in 1984, when terrorists detonated a bomb in the Grand Hotel where leading government ministers were staying during the Conservative Party Conference.

Mrs Tebbit, as she then was, suffered terrible injuries in the explosion and was paralysed. She used a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Lord and Lady Tebbit moved to Bury St Edmunds in 2009.

Lady Tebbit died at home on Saturday morning and there have been tributes from prime minister Boris Johnson, who expressed his sympathy through Twitter. 

"Very sad to hear the news of Margaret Tebbit’s death," he said. 

"She was a brave woman who showed enormous fortitude in her suffering after the 1984 Brighton bombing.

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"My thoughts are with Norman and their family at this difficult time."

Norman and Margaret Tebbit married in 1956. He had been a pilot in the RAF and in the 1950s he became a civilian pilot for BOAC  before being elected as MP for Chingford, in south Essex. They had two sons and a daughter.

Lady Tebbit was a nurse before suffering her injuries in the bombing and spent two years in Stoke Mandeville Hospital being treated for the injuries.

She regained some use of her hands and arms, despite suffering a broken neck.

Her husband left the cabinet in 1987 to be able to spend more time caring for her - and stood down from the House of Commons at the 1992 general election, becoming Lord Tebbit.

He continues to make occasional contributions to debates in the Upper Chamber.

After they moved to Bury St Edmunds, the couple have played an active life in the town - although Lady Tebbit had been suffering from a form of dementia in recent years.

Lady Tebbit was patron of the spinal cord injury charity Aspire for 20 years which supports people who suffer paralysing injuries.

Brian Carlin, chief executive of Aspire, said: “I am very sad to hear about Margaret’s death.  

"She will be deeply missed by myself and everyone at Aspire.  We are honoured that Margaret, Norman and their family have remained such loyal supporters of the charity throughout the years.  

"Margaret has been an incredible ambassador and role model for people with spinal cord injuries and an invaluable friend to Aspire for over 20 years.  

"Our thoughts are with Norman and the rest of her family.”