Conservative’s bid to be Chichester’s first female MP

Gillian Keegan at an election hustings in 2015
Gillian Keegan at an election hustings in 2015

Chichester could elect its first female MP when voters head to the polls for next month’s general election.

Gillian Keegan, who lives in Petworth with her husband Michael, was selected by the Chichester Conservative Association as its parliamentary candidate last night (Tuesday May 2).

She is looking to succeed Andrew Tyrie, who announced last week he would be stepping down after 20 years in Parliament, and would be one of a handful of female MPs ever elected in West Sussex.

Cllr Keegan, who represents Rogate at Chichester District Council and is cabinet member for commercial services, said she was ‘delighted’ and called the nomination a ‘dream come true’.

She thanked Mr Tyrie for his mentoring help and described him as a ‘great MP’ who has had a ‘very distinguished parliamentary career’.

She added: “I have loved serving people in my role as councillor and cabinet member and if elected would look forward to continuing to serve the people in the Chichester district.

“I also serve as a governor on the NHS hospital trust which runs St Richard’s and have really enjoyed working with the fabulous team there and meeting patients and volunteers.

“The NHS is vital to all of us and I will continue to be a champion for our hospital services.

“I’m not a career politician and have worked for 27 years in corporate businesses. I started as an apprentice in a car factory and made my way up the ranks in the banking and then technology sectors.

“I look forward to meeting many people in the next few weeks. We will be holding public meetings across the district which will give people the opportunity to meet me and ask questions on issues that concern them.”

Political figures from across Sussex have already congratulated her on the nomination.

Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Huge congrats to Gillian Keegan - she’ll make a fantastic MP for Chichester & I look forward to working with her.”

Nick Herbert, looking to be re-elected as Arundel and South Downs MP, added: “Many congrats Gillian Keegan on being selected for Chichester. Great news for West Sussex - look forward to working with my new neighbour.”

Cllr Keegan went to primary school in Yorkshire and completed her secondary education in Merseyside, before joining a subsidiary of General Motors as an apprentice age 16.

She was sponsored to study a degree in Business Studies at Liverpool John Moores University and has lived and worked abroad during an international business career which has spanned more then 25 years spanning the manufacturing, banking and IT industries.

Most recently she was the chief marketing officer for a global company in the travel technology sector, and prior to that she was responsible for global customer sales and account management, based in Madrid for eight years, and in 2010 spent a year studying a Sloan Fellowship master’s degree at the London Business School.

After being elected on to Chichester District Council, she finished second in the Labour-held seat of St Helens South and Whiston at the 2015 general election.

Jonathan Brown, a district councillor for Southbourne, is the Lib Dems’ candidate for Chichester, while Mark Farwell is standing for Labour.

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