‘The Iron Lady was an inspiration to women’

The handwritten reply from Margaret Thatcher which was sent to three local students who'd written her a letter of support ahead of the 1979 general election. INNT 16-505CON
The handwritten reply from Margaret Thatcher which was sent to three local students who'd written her a letter of support ahead of the 1979 general election. INNT 16-505CON

A BALLYCLARE woman has revealed how she received a handwritten letter from Margaret Thatcher thanking her for a message of support as she pushed to become the UK’s first female Prime Minister in the late 1970s.

The woman, who didn’t want to be named, revealed how she and two friends wrote to the Conservative Party leader after the 1979 vote of no confidence - the vote which brought down Jim Callaghan’s government and led to the general election a couple of months later.

“When I was a student at the then Ulster Polytechnic, myself and two friends wrote to her following her win in the vote of no confidence on March 28, 1979,” the Ballyclare woman told the Times.

“We were studying Sociology and Politics and we recognised the importance of a woman from a normal background breaking the mould.”

The students received Mrs Thatcher’s reply dated March 30, 1979 - the same day that her friend and fellow politician Airey Neave was murdered in an INLA car bomb.

Margaret Thatcher, who earned the nickname ‘the Iron Lady’, went on to serve as Prime Minister from 1979 until 1990 - the longest-serving UK leader of the 20th century.

“She entered the then male-dominated world of politics and had the guts to go for the top job. She was very determined, hard working and believed what she was doing was in the best interests of the country. In the end, these great qualities also destroyed her.

“I believe she was an inspiration to other females by showing them that it is possible to break through the glass ceiling,” the woman added.

The funeral of Baroness Thatcher, who passed away on April 8, was due to take place at St Paul’s Cathedral, London on Wednesday, April 17.