Born In: Bath, Somerset, England
British politician, author, and TV/stage performer Ann Widdecombe was the Minister of State for Employment from 1993 to 1995 and the Minister of State for Prisons from 1995 to 1997, both under the leadership of former Prime Minister John Major. An Oxford alumna, she was elected as a Member of Parliament for Maidstone in 1987. She has represented South West England in the European Parliament, been the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security, and has held several Shadow Cabinet posts. Known for her outspoken personality, she has been vocal about her opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. She has also opposed fox hunting. She is a reputed author who has written columns, several novels, and a memoir. A popular entertainer, too, she has appeared on several game/reality shows, agony aunt shows, and pantomimes.
Also Known As: Ann Noreen Widdecombe
father: James Murray Widdecombe
mother: Rita Noreen (Plummer) Widdecombe
Born Country: England
education: University Of Birmingham
Ann Noreen Widdecombe was born on October 4, 1947, Bath, Somerset, England, to James Murray Widdecombe CB OBE and Rita Widdecombe. Her father was the Head of Naval Supplies & Transport, under the Ministry of Defense. She had a brother, Malcolm (1937-2010), who grew up to be an Anglican canon in Bristol.
She traveled around with her father and thus studied in a string of different schools, such as Singapore’s Royal Naval School and Bath’s La Sainte Union Convent. She then joined Birmingham University, obtaining her BA Hons. degree in Latin in 1969. She then got her BA Hons. degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, in 1972, followed by an MA degree in 1976.
She was also part of The Oxford Union, as its secretary in 1971 and its treasurer in 1972. She was an Oxford University Conservative Association member, too
Ann Widdecombe started her career in marketing with Unilever in 1973 and continued till 1975. She then moved to London University in 1975, where she served as a senior administrator.
She stepped into politics in 1976, when she became a District Councillor for Runnymede Council. In 1979, she became the Conservative candidate for Burnley.
In 1983, she was named as a candidate for Plymouth Devonport, against rival Dr. David Owen. In 1987, she was elected as the Member of Parliament for Maidstone. She assumed office in June 1987 and continued in the post till April 2010, representing the newly formed Maidstone and The Weald constituency from 1997.
In 1990, she was made the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security under John Major and specialized in pensions. The same year, she was also appointed as PPS to Tristan Garel-Jones, Minister at the Foreign Office.
In 1993, she took over as the Under Secretary of the State Department of Employment. She became the Minister of State for Employment in Prime Minister John Major’s government in 1994. She assumed her duties on May 27, 1993 and continued till July 5, 1995.
She took over as the Minister of State Home Office in 1995 and handled responsibility for prisons and immigration. The year 1997 saw her serve as a Member of Standards and Privileges Committee of the House of Commons.
The following year, she became the Shadow Health Secretary and served till 1999. She was also the Shadow Home Secretary from 1999 to 2001, under William Hague.
She declared she intended to retire from the Shadow Front Bench in 2001. During this time, she also decided not to contest for the party leadership. In October 2007, she declared she wished to retire at the General Election of 2010.
In April 2019, Ann Widdecombe made a comeback to politics and as a Brexit Party member. The following month, she became one of the three MEPs from the South West region.
In November that year, she ran as MP for Brexit Party. In December 2019, after UK’s exit from the EU, her role as an MEP came to an end. In 2020, she continued to be part of The Brexit Party, focusing on the Brexit transition.
Throughout her political career, Ann was considered opinionated and outspoken. She was part of the Pro-Life All Party Parliamentary Group and was against abortion.
She wanted to reintroduce the death penalty in the UK. Though she supports is skeptical of the measures to control climate change, she has consistently called for a ban on hunting of foxes.
While she supported the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967, she has consistently spoken against the LGBT community since then. She once advocated for conversion therapy and has consistently opposed same-sex marriage.
Widdecombe has been quite popular on TV and on stage. In 2002, she appeared on Celebrity Fit Club and returned to the show in 2005, offering advice to various celebrities. She also appeared on The Widdecombe Project and Ann Widdecombe to the Rescue (2005), both agony aunt shows.
In 2006 and 2007, she guest-hosted Have I Got News for You. She has also been seen in an episode of the sci-fi series Doctor Who (2007) and on Strictly Come Dancing (2010), pairing up with dancer Anton duBeke in the latter.
In 2012, she became the quizmaster of the Sky Atlantic show Cleverdicks. She has also been part of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip (2014), 24 Hours in the Past (2015), and Celebrity Big Brother (2018).
In December 2011, she made her stage debut with the Christmas pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Dartford Orchard Theatre. The following year, she appeared in the comic opera La Fille du Regiment.
In 2016, she played Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Bridlington Spa. The next year, Widdecombe appeared as the Empress of China in the pantomime Aladdin, staged at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft.
Ann Widdecombe has never been married and has no children. A 2001 The Guardian report claimed that she had dated someone for three years back at Oxford. In a 2011 interview, she related how her first boyfriend, merchant banker Colin Maltby, whom she dated at Oxford, was her “Mr. Right.”
An animal lover, she is fond of cats. Till she retired, Widdecombe divided her time between her London home and her Sutton Valence, Kent home. She later sold both. In March 2008, she purchased a property in Haytor Vale for spending her retired life.
Following her religious schooling, Widdecombe turned into an agnostic and then switched to being an Anglican in her 30s. In 1993, she converted to Roman Catholicism.
In 2010, she rejected the offer to be Britain's next ambassador to the Holy See. In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI named her Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great.
Ann Widdecombe has been associated with a lot of charities, such as Safe Haven for Donkeys, which helps working donkeys in Israel and Palestine; Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats, which prevents goat cruelty; SPANA, for emergency aid and free veterinary services for animals; and The Leprosy Mission. She has also worked for religious charities and foundations for previously imprisoned people and the disabled.
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