I learnt with shock and sadness of the death of Baroness Thatcher whilst I understood that her health was poor I nevertheless am shocked by her death. For me, I feel as if I have lost a good friend and an inspiration.
If it hadn't of been for Margaret I would never have won my seat in 1983 or went on to have retained it in the following elections. What a privilege it was for me to have worked under her leadership in my first Parliament from 1983 - 1987.
She was without doubt the dominant force in Parliament and in the world. She changed our country and the world and made them better places in which to live. She was a force for good.
Whether it be through her philosophy that we should all make the most of our god given talents or opportunity for all she transformed our nations circumstances from the dark days of 1979. The constituency that I represented first of Basildon embraced Margaret's philosophy of aspiration for everyone.
So it was then that when my seat seemed under siege from all groups in 1992, she paid her final visit to support me in my campaign and ensured my re - election and a historic victory. I will always be grateful for the kindness and understanding that she showed to me and my family on that occasion.
In 1990 I fought to the end to keep her as leader of the Conservative party and was horrified by the way other colleagues who feared for their electoral fortunes turned against our leader. I was incandescent and have always thought that our party never really recovered from that very public argument
In the years that followed I kept in touch as much as I could with Baroness Thatcher whose health slowly declined. She even sent my mother a 100th birthday card last year. Without question she is the greatest national or international politician I have ever met.
It was a privilege to have known and worked with her. I shall never forget her. Her legacy lives on not only in this country but throughout the world. A giant of a politician whose only abiding wish was that each and every one of us be given the opportunity to make the most of our lives.
The Cambridgeshire based charity Alzheimer's Research UK have paid tribute to Margaret Thatcher.
Lady Thatcher became patron of the dementia research charity in 2001. Her daughter Carol revealed that her mother had been diagnosed with dementia in 2008.
Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“The loss of Baroness Thatcher will resonate across the world, but in particular with the 820,000 people living with dementia in the UK."
"That dementia could affect such a forceful personality is a lesson that this cruel condition does not discriminate. As Patron to Alzheimer’s Research UK, her support of our research could not have been more important, helping draw attention to a condition so frequently swept under the carpet."
“Thanks to Lady Thatcher, we have made inroads with our research to defeat dementia. The answers will come too late for her, but they will come, and this will be another important part of our collective memory of her life and work.”
Brian Binley, Conservative MP for Northampton South, said:
Throughout her life, Margaret Thatcher succeeded in delivering her vision of a Britain confident and respected – especially with regard to the spirit of entrepreneurialism and as a champion of free enterprise.
She lessened the grip of government on commercial activity; privatised many failing service organisations; and eventually changed the face of the world through her partnership with Ronald Reagan.