Tribute to Heath the matchmaker
SUFFOLK Coastal MP John Gummer today told how Sir Edward Heath had played matchmaker.Mr Gummer was a young MP for West Lewisham in south east London during Sir Edward's premiership in the early 1970s.
SUFFOLK Coastal MP John Gummer today told how Sir Edward Heath had played matchmaker.
Mr Gummer was a young MP for West Lewisham in south east London during Sir Edward's premiership in the early 1970s.
The Suffolk Coastal MP said today: "We were very fond of him. He was my neighbouring MP when I fought Greenwich and when I sat as MP for West Lewisham and he was also very kind and helpful to me.
"On a personal level we have a great deal to thank him for. My wife Penny was his secretary and it was through him that we met.
"He was always very good to us and to our family, and he was great company."
Mr Gummer said Sir Edward's shyness could be interpreted as aloofness.
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He said: "He was never at ease when you first met him, but for those of us who did know him well, he was the kindest, most generous man you could meet."
Sir Edward had been in failing health for some time, but had been able to host an 89th birthday party at his Salisbury home last week.
Mr Gummer had not been able to attend that because he was abroad - but he had visited him regularly.
He said: "Sir Edward had been unable to leave Salisbury because his health had been failing - but his mind remained as sharp as ever."
And the Suffolk MP said his achievement of taking Britain into Europe was the most important peace-time measure for the country during the last century.
"He saw this country's destiny was to play a leading role in Europe, and it is thanks to his tenacity that we entered the Common Market," he said.