All smiles … . then the bomb news
An anxious Mrs Margaret Thatcher hurried away from the first public engagement in her constituency since the vital Government vote, when she heard of the explosion at the House of Commons on Friday.
She was at Avenue House, Finchley, presenting cars to two disabled people when she was given the news. At the time it was not known that her friend and advisor Mr Airey Neave was victim of the blast.
Making her apologies, Mrs Thatcher rushed away to find out more details of the bombing. Before the news broke, a smiling and confident Mrs Thatcher had helped Miss Beryl Ward and Mrs Doris Cahill out to their new cars provided by Motability.
Motability is a national organisation which helps disabled people use their Government mobility allowance towards the hire and running of a car instead of towards a bus or train pass.
Mrs Thatcher said this was a “first” for her and she was especially pleased to be making the presentation in her own constituency. She told Mrs Cahill and Miss Ward: “We want to say how much we admire your courage and your tremendous cheerfulness. This is our way of expressing our tremendous admiration for you both.”
She praised the work of Motability, which she said, turned good intentions into actions, and thanked everybody who had made the presentation possible.
“We hope these cars will bring a lot more cheer to your lives, and we wish you every happiness in the use of them in the years to come.”
Lord Goodman, chairman of Motability, said: “We are exceptionally grateful that notwithstanding the great burden on Mrs Thatcher now, she has been able to be here.”
He explained the Motability scheme, and said: “It helps people become mobile who would not be able to go on the Government grant alone.”
Barnet's Mayor, Councillor Jimmy Sapsted, thanked members of the organisation.
Miss Ward, 38, of Oakieigh Road North, Whetstone, was presented with a yellow Mini 1000 automatic, specially adapted by Reseico Invalid Carriages for her disability. The alterations ordered by the British School of Motoring included the movement of the accelerator pedal so that she can use her left foot, and a “foot brake” she can operate by hand.
Her parents sent her a “lucky” horseshoe in heather to mark the occasion, and Miss Ward said: “The car feels lovely.”
After Mrs Thatcher was given the news about the bomb blast, she found the time to say goodbye to Miss Ward, and to wish her luck with her driving lessons which were due to begin this week, before dashing off.
Mrs Cahill, of Muswell Hill, was presented with a Chrysler Avenger, which will be driven by her husband Howard. “We're really thrilled. Just can't believe our luck,” he said.