I went to primary school in Lenzie and in Ottery St Mary. Secondary schools were The Maynard in Exeter and Stirling High. In 1972 I graduated with an Honours degree in History from the University of Edinburgh and then completed a postgraduate course in secretarial studies at Strathclyde University.
After graduating I worked for seven years in the national office of Age Concern Scotland, latterly as Deputy Director. In 1979 I returned to Devon to run the Plymouth-based South West office of the Gas Consumers Council, monitoring the activity of the gas industry in seven south west counties. During this period, the industry was privatised and in 1996 parts of the South West became the pilot area for domestic gas competition – a global first.
I joined the Labour Party in 1972 and became increasingly active holding party offices and seeking election from 1986 onwards, ending up as the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton for thirteen years between 1997 until 2010.
During my time in parliament I was Parliamentary private secretary to Local Government and Science Ministers, Assistant Minister for the South West, a Member of the Defence Select Committee, the Arms Export Control Committees and the Science and Technology Select Committee. I played a part in helping to ensure a successful outcome to the bids to bring the Peninsula Medical and Dental Schools to the city and wider peninsula.
Since losing the 2010 election I have been living between Plymouth and Edinburgh maintaining an interest in politics while dedicating time and energy in an attempt to right a miscarriage of justice within the Gilroy family (see ). I also seek out others who have similar challenges, both to learn from them and to help where I can. And in between I write a little, mostly poetry and the history of twentieth century women MP’s.