Club welcomes Gillian Keegan

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Never underestimate the power of randomness was the message when Education Minister Gillian Keegan spoke to Chichester Probus Club at their summer ladies’ lunch at Crouchers.

The Chichester MP said that a random remark while at a meeting was the catalyst of her mid-life entry to the world of politics.

Ms Keegan about her life leading up to her change of career.

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She said that, as a Liverpool lass, who attended local comprehensive she grew up not knowing what a Conservative was. She had to leave school at 16 with her 10 GCSEs because there was nowhere around to take A-levels.

GIllian Keegan speaks to Chichester Probus Clu on May 10, 2024GIllian Keegan speaks to Chichester Probus Clu on May 10, 2024
GIllian Keegan speaks to Chichester Probus Clu on May 10, 2024

However, she did manage to win an apprenticeship at the local General Motors electronics factory, the reason she was so keen now on the introduction of many more apprenticeship. While there she also took a a BA in Business Studies.

She went on to join NatWest as a senior technology buyer a job which took her to London and Tokyo, banking cash and trying to introduce chip and pin. Her next job was in Madrid working in the tech department of a large travel company for eight years.

Ms Keegan went on to say that she had been enjoying life having been successful from the age of 16. It was time for a second career.

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Then came the random remark, “Have you thought about going into politics?” which set her new course. She was introduced to the organisation Women to Win which was co-founded by Theresa May to encourage more women to enter politics.

Her first step was becoming a member of Chichester district Council in 2014. Then she stood as a Tory for an unwinnable parliamentary seat in her Northern home constituency.

She stood for the Chichester seat in 2017, winning with a majority of 20,000. She quickly rose through the ranks to become Minister of Education.

She told the club she was particularly pleased with the massive progress in Maths teaching in England and the huge growth in the number of apprenticeships. Now 70 per cent of careers could be accessed through them – all built in the past 10 years.

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Questioned on the On-line Safety Bill, Ms Keegan said it was a difficult balance. “It doesn’t go far enough but you can’t push it underground.”

On-line social activity was good for adults to keep in touch with family and friends but tricky when used by children and young people.

Bullying had always been part of childhood but it used to be visible on the playground, not hiding behind a phone.

Chichester Probus Club is open to new members who have or have had a career in business or Government in their own right.

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