Former Conservative MP, broadcaster and author Edwina Currie will play host to the inaugural Royal Tunbridge Wells Business Awards (RTWBA) ceremony next year.
The one-time rising star of Margaret Thatcher’s government – who has been in the front line of public life for more than four decades – will act as compere at the event next May.
The RTWBA is organised by One Media & Creative UK, publishers of the Times of Tunbridge Wells and So magazine. The event is being sponsored by local law firm Cripps.
Mrs Currie, 69, will deliver a speech, present awards and network among the guests at the celebration of business achievement in the borough.
She told the Times: “Business people in Tunbridge Wells should be very proud of what they are doing. There is masses of praise for those in public service, the army, police and the health service. And that is right and proper.
“There is also a lot of praise for people who volunteer and, again, rightly so, although everyone should volunteer in my opinion and it is what makes a cohesive society.
“But I don’t think there is enough praise for business people. Business involves risk and sometimes you win some and you lose some. Sometimes that through bad luck, incompetence or bad practice.
“But most people running their own companies are absolutely doing their best. We have a long history in this country of being a trading nation and we should be proud of that. We should be encouraging our brightest young people to take the plunge.
“That’s why I am proud and happy to be a part of the RTWBA. It is a great way to showcase and celebrate all that is good in local business talent in a county that leads the way in Britain.”
A spokesman for the former star of Strictly Come Dancing and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here said: “Edwina’s delighted to have been asked to take part in this awards ceremony.
“As a life-long Conservative and a graduate of Oxford University and the London School of Economics, Edwina is a big supporter of business and entrepreneurship. It is a subject close to her heart.”
Nick Moore, commercial director of One Media & Creative UK, said: “Edwina Currie has been part of public life for decades and has succeeded in just about everything she has ever tried.
“We are all delighted she has agreed to compere the evening in what is One Media’s inaugural business awards event for the town.
“It is part of our commitment as a publishing house in the heart of Tunbridge Wells to be celebrating the fantastic business success stories and to help push the boundaries of achievement.”
There are 11 categories covering sectors including new businesses, green credentials, family values, service and entrepreneurship.
The best-selling author will sit alongside the judging team of six, which includes borough council leader David Jukes, former Savoy chef and restaurateur Brian Keeley-Whiting and Jo James, chief executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.
The other judges are: Darren Austin of chartered accountants and business advisors Synergee, Nigel Harper, CEO of Parfitt Cresswell Solicitors and Richard Moore, editorial director of One Media & Creative.
EDWINA CURRIE PROFILE
Born in Liverpool in 1946, Edwina Currie attended the same school as the Beatles’ Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison. She won a scholarship to study chemistry at Oxford University before taking a master’s at the London School of Economics.
After a long stint on Birmingham City Council, Edwina was elected to Westminster as an MP in 1983, the same year as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
She was soon promoted to a health minister under Margaret Thatcher and was noted for her work in the fields of HIV and breast cancer. She would later be involved in controversies involving utterances on salmonella in eggs which led to her resignation.
During her years on the back benches and beyond, Edwina forged a career as a best-selling author in fiction and non-fiction.
She lost her Midlands seat in 1997 in the New Labour rout but has found herself much in demand on television and radio ever since.