Politics aside, what are the people who want to represent Bury St Edmunds really like?

Aerial shot of Bury St Edmunds - St Edmundsbury Cathedral and Angel Hill.

Aerial shot of Bury St Edmunds - St Edmundsbury Cathedral and Angel Hill. - Credit: Archant

Which of Suffolk’s parliamentary candidates likes a dry white wine? Which one is a Queen fan? Who plays the violin? And who is the archaeologist?

Bury St Edmunds War Memorial.

Bury St Edmunds War Memorial. - Credit: Gregg Brown

As the election campaign draws to a close do we really know who we are voting for?

Today we asked the five candidates for the Bury St Edmunds parliamentary seat the questions voters really want to know the answers to.

Alongside their politics, John, Jo, David, Helen and Bill have hobbies, families, passions and even a favourite tipple.

For Jo Churchill – Conservative – Chinese is the takeaway of choice, for Helen Geake – Green Party – Woolpit is home. John Howlett – UKIP – never misses University Challenge, Bill Edwards – Labour – enjoys the odd pint of Greene King IPA and David Chappell – Liberal Democrat – counts scuba diving among his hobbies. And they all want to be one of Suffolk’s MPs.


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In the age of personality politics we asked these men and women some of life’s more light-hearted questions – we asked them all the same ones just to be fair – in a bid to draw out what makes them tick and what piques their interest.

The results were fascinating, they may even help you decide.

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Conservative - Jo Churchill

Age: 51 Marital status: Married to Peter Children/family: Four children, all of whom are voting for the first time on May 7 Occupation: Conservative candidate Address: Bury St Edmunds

Jo Churchill has been selected as the new Conservative candidate for Bury St Edmunds.

Jo Churchill has been selected as the new Conservative candidate for Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Archant

Briefly outline your political career: Political campaigner for health outcomes; party member and county councillor

What are your three core political beliefs? I believe in hard work and getting on, the country needs to keep paying down its debts, and build a future for our children and care for those that provided for us.

Why do you want to be the MP for Bury St Edmunds? The constituency is a very special place with a mix of commerce and community, tradition and dynamism. I visit people and places every day in the constituency and after six months of living here I think it is the people that make this constituency special.

What TV show do you never miss? I’m a big radio listener. But on a Sunday when we are all at home and on the sofa it has to be Call the Midwife or Downton Abbey.

What is your favourite tipple? Dry white wine.

What music or bands do you listen to? Rarely my choice in a family of six. In my husband’s car it’s Hendrix; Pink Floyd or Iron Maiden. If the kids are in charge it’s Radio 1 so could be anything from Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith to Tow The Line. When I get a chance to choose it is usually female vocalists, Annie Lennox; Florence and the Machine; Paloma Faith or Emile Sande.

What are your hobbies away from politics? Cooking and walking with the dogs

What’s always in your fridge? Veg and a jar of something that is usually slightly out of date.

What is your favourite takeaway? Chinese but I’m always up for a meal I’ve not cooked

David Chappell

David Chappell - Credit: Archant

What was your first job? Sorting nuts and bolts in my dad’s engineering firm

Who is your political hero and why? Churchill – an extraordinary man. A mixture or leadership and compassion. A bricklayer and artist in his spare time.

Who is your political zero and why? George Galloway for many reasons

What is the best piece of advice you have been given? Count to three and walk away

Where is your favourite holiday destination? Cumbria

What makes you proud? Seeing people achieve their potential in all walks of life

What is your biggest achievement so far? Our children

Name four people you would like to have dinner with: Professor Winston; Baroness Trumpington; Ian Hislop and Karen Brady

In one sentence why should people vote for you? Because I will work hard for all people of the constituency, both inside and outside of Westminster.

The Green Party has selected Time Team's Helen Geake as its Bury St Edmunds Candidate

The Green Party has selected Time Team's Helen Geake as its Bury St Edmunds Candidate - Credit: Archant

Liberal Democrat - David Chappell

Age: 61 Marital status: Divorced Children/family: One son, a student Occupation: Senior contract administrator Address: Fornham All Saints, Bury St Edmunds from 2000 working away occasionally

Briefly outline your political career: General election agent 1975 and 2000. Parish councillor for several years after moving to Fornham All Saints; district councillor 2007 to 2011 on St Edmundsbury. Parliamentary candidate 2005, 2010 and

2015

What are your three core political beliefs?

1) Fairness and equal opportunity for all.

2) Look after those who are unable to look after themselves

3) Giving people and communities the right to make their own decisions providing those decisions do not harm others.

FOR GRAHAM DINES; Bill Edwards, Labour candidate for Braintree, 2010; PICTURE CONTRIBUTED 12.3.10

FOR GRAHAM DINES; Bill Edwards, Labour candidate for Braintree, 2010; PICTURE CONTRIBUTED 12.3.10 - Credit: Archant

Why do you want to be the MP for Bury St Edmunds? To help people improve their lives and bring a bit of sense into how our country is governed.

What TV show do you never miss? None.

What is your favourite tipple? Very occasionally Newcastle Brown Ale

What music or bands do you listen to? Whatever’s on the radio as I drive.

What are your hobbies away from politics? Scuba, tenpin bowling, pool. reading, computer games

What’s always in your fridge? Air!

What is your favourite takeaway? None

What was your first job? Paperboy

Who is your political hero and why? David Steel, for the work he did helping the homeless.

John Howlett, who is standing for the UK Independence Party in the election for Bury St Edmunds.

John Howlett, who is standing for the UK Independence Party in the election for Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Archant

Who is your political zero and why? Robert Mugabe for letting his fear of losing power ruin his country

What is the best piece of advice you have been given? Get going

Where is your favourite holiday destination? The Lake District

What makes you proud? Not into pride, but it is satisfying when I can help people out of a problem.

What is your biggest achievement so far? My son

Name four people you would like to have dinner with: My son, John Cleese, Barack Obama, Jean Bernard-Levy

In one sentence why should people vote for you? I will make a difference

Green party - Helen Geake

Age: 47 Marital status: Married to Angus Children/family: Mother of three Occupation: Archaeologist Address: Woolpit

Briefly outline your political career: I’ve always been keen on putting the world to rights and, as archaeologists tend to be very

left-wing, I had lively debates with friends in the Socialist Workers’ Party! I’ve never felt happy with the major parties, and became very disillusioned with Labour under Tony Blair, when I felt they were almost indistinguishable from the Tories. I’ve always lobbied politicians about causes close to my heart, and eventually I realised that I didn’t need to do this with the Greens – I agreed with 90% of the policies anyway.

I first voted Green in 2010, and in 2013 took the plunge and joined the party.

I quickly found myself standing for Parliament, which was a bit of a surprise!

What are your three core political beliefs? I believe in equality. We are all human, we all have to live in one world, and we all deserve the same chances.

I also hate waste, whether that’s wasted human potential, or the world’s resources, or opportunities for change.

Finally I strongly believe in the public service ethos. If you do something for another person, you do it better than if you do it for profit – particularly if it’s for someone else’s profit.

Why do you want to be the MP for Bury St Edmunds? Because it’s my home, and because I believe I have the ideas and energy to make here and the rest of the UK a better place for everyone to live in.

What TV show do you never miss? I love comedy. I’m very keen on Father Ted, W1A and Bad Education. All of these are about people doing their jobs badly, so I suppose that must say something about me!

What is your favourite tipple? Real ale and whisky (not in the same glass)What music or bands do you listen to? I have terrible taste in music! But I quite like listening to Purcell and Handel, and of course I’m a fan of The Plimpies and Green

Shoots, our local folk bands in Woolpit.

What are your hobbies away from politics? I sing with the Tudor Rose Singers – we do a mix of church music, jazz and funny songs, and you can book us for fundraising events (plug). We’ve helped raise quite a bit of money to restore Fornham St Martin’s wonderful church organ.

What’s always in your fridge? My husband says: mould. I say: cheese!

What is your favourite takeaway? A good curry.

What was your first job? Washing up in a pub was my first Saturday job – but my first full-time job was as a junior secretary for a small architects’ practice. I can still touch-type at top speed.

Who is your political hero and why? Clement Attlee. He was modest yet courageous, and got everyone working together to radically change the way the country lived and worked. He probably improved more people’s lives in the UK than anyone before or since.

Who is your political zero and

why? I’m afraid it has to be David Cameron. He has made more people miserable than just about anyone. Even Margaret Thatcher didn’t contemplate food banks and the bedroom tax.

What is the best piece of advice you have been

given? My mum has a cartoon on her kitchen wall that reads ‘Be nice to horrible people, they probably need it most.’ I try to follow it!

Where is your favourite holiday destination? Lundy, the island in the Bristol Channel where I first met my husband. Very windswept and romantic.

What makes you proud? The way the debate is unfolding in the constituency. There are so many people interested in a new kind of politics.

What is your biggest achievement so far? That the Greens are being taken so seriously. A couple of weeks back Radio Suffolk invited me to cross swords with Matthew Hancock, the minister for energy and climate change, on the breakfast show. I’m not sure that pitting a minister against a Green candidate would have happened at the last election.

Name four people you would like to have dinner with:

The Venerable Bede, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Marie Curie, Shappi Khorsandi. The Venerable Bede might be a bit of a fish out ofwater in that company but I’m sure he’d enjoy himself after a couple of drinks.

In one sentence why should people vote for you? Because they will be voting for real change.

Labour - Bill Edwards

Age: 64 Marital status: Married to Marilyn for 40 years Children/family: Father of twins Bryn and Bronwen, now 23 Occupation: I run my own consultancy business on making confectionery Address: Great Bardfield

Briefly outline your political career: District councillor, candidate for a county council, candidate for Braintree at the 2010 election

What are your three core political beliefs? Equality. Justice. Fairness

Why do you want to be the MP for Bury St Edmunds? I want to be the MP for Bury St Edmunds because it is a marvellous place. It must be my Suffolk roots, I feel at home here.

What TV show do you never miss? I do not watch much TV

What is your favourite tipple? Greene King IPA

What music or bands do you listen to? Classical music

What are your hobbies away from politics? Photography, playing the violin, gardening, walking, cycling and reading

What’s always in your fridge? Cheese

What is your favourite takeaway? Fish and chips

What was your first job? Moving furniture at Unilever House, London

Who is your political hero and why? Aneurin Bevan. He introduced the NHS

Who is your political zero and why? Mrs Thatcher. Before she was prime minister we had a decent country where people could afford to buy a house, where there were grants to go to university, Britain was a manufacturing country called the workshop of the world.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given? Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent

Where is your favourite holiday destination? Annecy in France

What makes you proud? My twins

What is your biggest achievement so far? Staying married for 40 years.

Name four people you would like to have dinner with: Katherine Jenkins, Alan Turing, Richard the Lionheart, Marilyn Monroe

In one sentence why should people vote for you? I stand for a better life for ordinary people.

UKIP - John Howlett

Age: 67 Marital status: Married to Diana Children/family: Father of four Occupation: Consulting engineer in construction industry Address: Isleham

Briefly outline your political career: Referendum party candidate SE Cambs 1997. UKIP parliamentary candidate Bury St Edmunds, 2001, 2005, 2010

What are your three core political beliefs?

1) Equality under the law

2) Freedom of speech

3) Freedom of conscience

Why do you want to be the MP for Bury St Edmunds?

To be instrumental in getting Britain out of the EU

What TV show do you never miss? University Challenge

What is your favourite tipple? Fizzy wine

What music or bands do you listen to? Queen

What are your hobbies away from politics? Reading

What’s always in your fridge? Cheese made from raw milk

What is your favourite takeaway? Chips

What was your first job? Operating a bottle washing machine

Who is your political hero? Margaret Thatcher, she transformed Britain.

Who is your political zero? Edward Heath, he lied in order to persuade us to join the Common Market

What is the best piece of advice you have been given? Give and it shall be given unto you – Jesus

Where is your favourite holiday destination? Gulf of Aqaba

What makes you proud? My children

What is your biggest achievement so far? My children

Name four people you would like to have dinner with: Rod Liddle, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Ian Hislop – hopefully a lot of laughs

In one sentence why should people vote for you? UKIP has policies which are fully costed whereas the other parties have

wish lists which they will not be able to deliver.

For full election coverage, see here

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