TRIBUTES have poured in for Margaret Thatcher whose politics have shaped life in the borough.
Baroness Thatcher died peacefully in her sleep on Monday (APR 8) following a stroke.
The former prime minister attempted to be the Conservative candidate for the Orpington parliamentary by-election of 1955 but she was defeated by the incumbent chairman of the divisional Conservative Association.
But this did not put her off the area and she made it her family home, living in Holwood Park Avenue, Farnborough, while her children Carol and Mark were growing up.
Her daughter was a pupil at Baston School, Baston Road, Hayes, while Charles Wimble’s mother Joy was the headteacher.
He and his brother John would often visit the Thatcher family to play.
Mr Wimble, of Baston Road, Hayes, said: “Carol was at the school for two years from September 1959 and when I was little I used to go round to play with Carol and Mark.”
She made several visits throughout her political career and her influence rubbed off on the area’s politicians.
Beckenham’s MP Bob Stewart (pictured above) says he is terribly upset about her death.
He said: "I knew her and spoke to her often. “I last saw her four months ago at a club in London and she was very fragile.
“She was a great and wonderful woman and people should celebrate her life.
“As prime minister, she was as good as you can get."
He first met the former prime minister in 1982 whilst he was serving with the Cheshire Regiment in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, when a bomb went off at the Droppin Well discotheque.
Following the bombing, Baroness Thatcher visited some of the 35 wounded soldiers in hospital.
"She went around the beds and when she came to Mark Young, who was 18, she looked at him and cuddled him.
"She cried and wept. You would have presumed it was her son.
“After that she took a few minutes to compose herself before she went out and gave the press the iron lady touch.
"I thought, that is the sort of prime minister I want.
“Everyone who worked with her said she cared about them intensely and knew all their names.
“She may have been an iron lady but she had a heart of gold.”
Pictured here with the Prime Minister when he was a councillor for Havering in 1982, Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill says she was a ‘truly remarkable politician’.
He said: “I was incredibly saddened to hear that Baroness Thatcher passed away.
“She was a truly remarkable politician and will forever be remembered as the greatest peacetime Prime Minister of the twentieth century.
“She brought lasting benefits to the UK and many people in Bromley and Chislehurst benefited from the reforms she pioneered and the way she championed hard work, aspiration and home ownership.
“Lady Thatcher really did stand up for Britain in the world, restored our standing and gave people sense of national pride and optimism.
“She has always been a great inspiration to me and I was fortunate enough to meet her in my early political career as a young Conservative councillor.
“Today is a sad day for Briton, but we can all reflect with immense pride on Lady Thatcher’s remarkable life story and the sacrifices she made to serve our county.”
Her visits included a speech in July 2001 at a dinner for Bromley Conservative Association when she looked back at why Labour had triumphed in the general election and how Conservatives could regain ground.
Bromley Council leader Councillor Stephen Carr said: “Firstly on a personal note I can say how sad I was on hearing the news that Baroness Thatcher had passed away and my thoughts are with her family.
“It was Mrs Thatcher that gave me and indeed my generation, the inspiration to work hard and succeed as I started my career in the City, coincidently in 1979 the year in which she became Prime Minister.
“I also had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Thatcher when she visited the borough some years ago.
“I have to say she gave the three hundred plus attending the most inspirational and inspiring speech but at the same time came over as a very caring and sensitive lady.
“And, on behalf of the Conservative Group, I am sure it is true to say that Baroness Thatcher was looked upon as an inspirational leader who had the strength and personal qualities that were needed to turn our country round.
“Lady Thatcher did so much to shape not only the core beliefs of our Party that are still respected up and down the Country today but also those of the Country.
“She will be greatly missed.”
And Orpington MP Jo Johnson (pictured above) said: “This is a sad time, as we bid farewell to one of the great prime ministers and world leaders of the 20th century, and it is entirely fitting that Lady Thatcher will receive a Ceremonial funeral with military honours in St Paul's Cathedral.
“Britain in the 1970s was often referred to as "ungovernable", with many politicians seemingly convinced that national decline was inevitable.
"But it wasn’t for Mrs Thatcher (as she then was) and the way she dragged the country out of its malaise showed that there was, finally, vision, drive and leadership in public life once again.”