I grew up in Surrey, in a close-knit family with a twin sister and a younger brother.
My fascination with politics started young, although I didn't imagine then that I would stand for Parliament! I studied Politics at Warwick University, gaining a 2.1 and winning a prize for international research.
Whilst at university, I fell seriously ill with bacterial meningitis, which left me partially deaf, with 70% hearing loss. It was only much later in life that I fully appreciated how fortunate I have been not to have been more seriously affected. It made me determined to do what I can to give back, and this drew me to apply to stand as a Conservative MP.
A love of competitive sport is in my blood. I represented British Universities and competed semi-professionally in equestrian sport. Having played numerous other sports with varying degrees of ability, I still get great enjoyment from it. I try to swim a mile most days to keep fit. At whatever the level, I know the powerful impact sport can have on the lives of young people.
Since university, I’ve had a long career in the “real world”, giving me huge breadth of experience to tackle national and local issues. Professionally, I am a skilled communicator, experienced in getting my point across, whether in the press or other media channels. I have worked in several different sectors, in global corporates and in smaller, entrepreneurial businesses.
I started my commercial career with Exxon Mobil. After that, I held senior marketing and leadership roles in Coca-Cola, RAC and Aviva. I have been self-employed for 3 years, and I have helped set up a number of new businesses. I understand what makes business tick, whether its a small local business or a FTSE 100. I’ll be an ardent campaigner for business growth, infrastructure and jobs in Blaydon.
Politically, I have campaigned extensively, across the UK. As a campaign director for Mary Macleod MP, I helped her to win Brentford and Isleworth in 2010, with a 6.5% swing from Labour.
Active in the community, until 2013 I was a governor of a comprehensive school, which was rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. More recently, I became a Trustee of Meningitis Now. We are pressing the Department for Health for the introduction of the new life-saving Meningitis B vaccine to be introduced to the childhood immunisatuon programme.
I am married to Chris, and have three step-daughters who are in their twenties.