We were thrilled to visit Number 10 today, with the other winners of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation awards. It’s an amazing building, steeped in history, which you can almost smell while you’re inside. We knocked on the imposing front door – the World’s most famous door! We walked up the famous staircase, with the portraits of every Prime Minister staring down at us. Still only one woman amongst the ranks, so there’s work to be done on this! It’s easy to imagine the subjects of the pictures moving and talking as in Harry Potter.
We visited the Cabinet room, and saw the table set and ready for tomorrow’s meeting. To think back on all the decisions which have been made in that room was pretty awe inspiring.We had a very decent cup of tea too in the state function rooms. All incredible in their own way and full of stories and details from every PM. It seems that every one of them leaves something behind. Harold Wilson – a clock, Margaret Thatcher – the ceiling decorations, Tony Blair – the trampoline in the garden!
We were invited to go because Gordon Brown was a lifelong friend of Sheila McKechnie and he continues to support the Foundation. And as we have become more familiar with the Foundation, it’s very evident that many people knew her, thought incredibly highly of her, and miss her now. But she lives on through the Foundation, which nurtures campaigners from all walks of life. She was an inspiration and a formidable campaigner herself. “I am a fully paid up member of the awkward squad”, she famously said. She was Director of both Shelter and the Consumers’ Association and she left an indelible mark on both organisations.
I sincerely hope we can live up to her name. And she’ll be listed on our website as a role model from now on.
Photos to follow shortly …