Wife pays tribute to former MP

By James HoreTHE wife of former Harwich MP, Sir Julian Ridsdale, has paid tribute to her husband's life in politics. Sir Julian Ridsdale, who died last week at the age of 89, was the Conservative MP for the Harwich constituency for 38 years and celebrated being elected 11 times.

By James Hore

THE wife of former Harwich MP, Sir Julian Ridsdale, has paid tribute to her husband's life in politics.

Sir Julian Ridsdale, who died last week at the age of 89, was the Conservative MP for the Harwich constituency for 38 years and celebrated being elected 11 times.

He will be remembered for making the town a safe Conservative seat, with his electoral margins growing bigger by the time he stood down in 1992.


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Sir Julian's wife of more than 60 years, Lady Ridsdale, said yesterday her husband had always had a special bond with the area and she also fond memories of their St Osyth home.

"It is amazing what he achieved, he was driven by politics and anything of global interest. He was a great supporter of the Royal family and the Queen," she added. "He had never really retired and still travelled greatly and had also been on duty with NATO."

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Julian Errington Ridsdale was born on June 8, 1915. The son of a stockbroker, he was a nephew of the Conservative prime minister Stanley Baldwin.

He was educated at Tonbridge, the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Royal Norfolk Regiment in 1935. On returning from Japan in 1940 he served with the Far Eastern section of the General Staff and on the Joint Staff Mission in Washington.

Sir Julian left the Army in 1946 and went into business. He unsuccessfully contested the Paddington North seat in 1951 and was first elected as Harwich MP at a by-election in 1954.

He was made a CBE in 1977 and was knighted 10 years later. The MP had a love of the Far East and for many years was the only MP in the House of Commons who was able to speak Japanese.

As an Army officer, he was sent to the School of Oriental Studies before serving at the British Embassy in Tokyo. His knowledge of Asia led Margaret Thatcher to seek advice from Sir Julian before she visited Japan when she was leader of the opposition.

Sir Julian married Paddy Bennett in 1942 and the couple had a daughter. Before her marriage, his wife had worked as a secretary for the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming, and was the model for his character Miss Moneypenny.

She was her husband's secretary in Parliament and also the chairman of the Conservative MPs Wives.

Sir Julian's funeral will be for family only, but Lady Ridsdale said a thanksgiving service was being planned after the MPs returned from their summer recess.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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