Civic ball ends testing day for ‘the local MP’
The Iron determination which took Finchley's MP, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, to the top as Leader of the Opposition, was revealed at Barnet Borough Council's civic banquet and ball in the Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London, on Saturday evening. Her programme that day would have exhausted a lesser woman.
Up at 4.30 a.m. for a 200-mile journey to Harrogate, to speak to the Conservative Party Central Council, she returned by car to London, drove to her home to change into evening dress and arrived in the ballroom at 7.45 p.m. to be guest of honour. She stayed until midnight.
“I'm dropping on my feet,” she told a Barnet Press reporter.
The glittering £6.50 per head self-supporting function, attended by 500 guests, was a social and financial success. Tickets were sold out and a profit was made.
Flanked by civic regalia, the Mayor of Barnet, Ald. William Hart, the Mayoress, Mrs. Daphne Hart, the chief executive and town clerk Mr. Ronald Williams, and his daughter, Mrs. Clare Hughes, received the guests.
In the hallroom, a magnificent floral display by Barnet Council parks department drew many complimentary remarks.
Diners sat down to a four-course meal of haddock mousse, green pea soup, veal, and chocolate souffle in the midst of which Mrs. Thatcher, Conservative MP for Finchley, arrived and was given a two—minute standing ovation.
Proposing the toast to the London Borough of Barnet, Mrs. Thatcher lightheartedly referred to the fact that some months ago she was asked to invite the Leader of the Opposition to be guest speaker, but he was “otherwise engaged.”
She continued: “We tried ex-Prime Ministers, but somehow everyone was booked-up so we had to fall back and make do with a local MP. Anyway, it's nice to be asked out for a hot meal,” she said.
[Currently only cold evening meals are being served at the House of Commons due to a catering workers' strike].
Referring to the borough's growth since its inception 10 years ago, Mrs. Thatcher said: “Times were different in 1965. We didn't have Cabinet Ministers telling the Prime Minister his appearance was not up to par”
Mrs. Thatcher praised the work of the borough's aldermen and councillors, who had served it well for many years. She said great credit was due to the calibre of local government staff and their dedication to duty, to give service to ratepayers.
She paid tribute to Mr. Ronald Williams, retiring as town clerk after 38 years' distinguished service in local government, and to the Mayor and Mayoress of Barnet, for their distinguished contribution to civic life.
Replying, Ald. Hart paid tribute to the borough's officers and management teams, who had continued to give service to ratepayers. Barnet, he said, had one of the lowest rates in the London area. Its efforts in education, housing, aiding the aged and handicapped and providing parks and open spaces, were commendable highlights.
He thanked Cr. Mrs. Beryl Franklin for her support as deputy mayor, and his wife, Mrs. Daphne Hart, for her valued contribution to the civic year.
Cr. Andrew Pares, leader of the Conservative group on Barnet Council, proposed a toast to the guests, who included seven mayors and mayoresses from neighbouring boroughs, Mr. Reginald Maudling. MP for Chipping Barnet, and Mrs. Maudling, Mr. P. T. Ireton, chairman of Hertfordshire County Council, and Mrs. Ireton, Mr B. S. Mason, vice—chairman, Greater London Council, and Mrs. Mason, the Bishop of Edmonton, and Mrs. Rogers, and Mr. A. E. Hawkins, chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board, and Mrs. Hawkins.
Mr. John Gorst. MP for Hendon, replied on behalf of the guests. During the evening Cr Norman Hirshfield, mayor—designate, celebrated his 60th birthday and shared a birthday cake with fellow diners.