10 years at Number 10
The Prime Minister's constituency visit had the national press jostling for headlines on Friday.
Photocalls were a signal for elbows and flash guns to start flying as photographers and cameramen fought to capture the anniversary of 30 years as MP for Finchley and ten years as prime minister, on film.
All just another day's work for Mrs Thatcher as she sailed through a hectic schedule covering key issues—the environment, new jobs and inner city regeneration.
She joined children at Coppetts Wood JMI School in Coppetts Road, Friern Barnet, to watch an educational and enterprising show called Bottle Busters.
Mrs. Thatcher and the pupils were shown the importance of recycling used bottles in a production by 6;15 Theatre Company.
After the show, Mrs Thatcher met children in the school's special language unit.
Set up in 1982, the unit is now used by nine children from all over the borough who tackle reading, writing and speech difficulties with the help of a teacher, a nursery nurse, part-time speech therapist and a visiting education psychologist.
And after a quick look into some of the other classrooms, Mrs Thatcher left for the newly-enlarged head office of McDonald's in High Road, East Finchley.
She was familiar with the bastion of burgers, having opened the original building in 1983.
As she unveiled the plaque on the new £20m extension, she congradulated McDonalds vice-president Paul Preston for “employing so many people” .
“You have aimed for higher and higher standards, offer value-for-money food, and added to that you make a profit.” said Mrs Thatcher.
During a guided tour of the plush offices, Mr Preston highlighted McDonalds' management training programme.
The new building includes Hamburger University, where staff from all over the UK undertake a Basic Operations Course.
After viewing a slick, all-American promotional video, Mrs Thatcher saw a typical McDonalds kitchen—£300,000 worth of shiny steel surfaces and milkshake makers.
Standing among some of the head offices' 242 staff, Mrs Thatcher was presented with a £1,000 cheque for the NSPCC, and a bouquet of flowers.
Her next engagement was with Pentland Industries, a sportswear holding company, based off Squires Lane, Finchley.
Pentland was donating a cheque for £50,000 to the Scouts Association, and Mrs Thatcher was on hand to give the cheque to chief scout Garth Morrison on behalf of Pentland chairman Stephen Rubin.
The money was the first donation towards a £10m fundraising campaign in aid of an Inner City Initiative.
Mrs Thatcher said: “The scouting movement is marvellous. It teaches young people everything that is good, honourable and responsible, and those basic values will stand them in good stead.”
Mr. Morrison said: “We will now be able to start increasing scouting in the inner cities and open the eyes of youngsters to the environment around them.”
Representing the 15th Finchley Scout Group, Nick Griffiths, 14, of Oakleigh Road North, Whetstone, was awarded the first Pentland-sponsored athlete's badge.
Gathered round a lake behind the Pentland offices, scouts and cubs from the 15th gave Mrs Thatcher a true taste of scouting—marshmallows roasted over an open fire.
Two marshmallows later and Mrs Thatcher was ready to watch a display by the 15th, who are celebrating their 70th anniversary this year.
As scouts paddled across the lake on a hand-made raft, abseiled, and canoed, group leader Alan Fensome explained: “There is a desperate need for young leaders, and if we do not get more then we cannot carry on.
“The money will be there to try and encourage people to take part in scouting. There are plenty of youngsters to be captured.”
Swapping her high-power suit for full-length blue evening dress, Mrs Thatcher was accompanied by her husband Dennis to an anniversary reception with local Conservative Party workers at the Hendon Hall Hotel.
A giant sculpture carved out of ice stood at one end of the reception suite—the result of four days cold chiselling by sculptor Duncan Hamilton.
MP for Hendon North John Marshall and prospective Euro MP Bob Lacey were among over 200 guests who gathered to toast Mrs Thatcher.
The chairman of her constituency association, Ron Thurlow, paid tribute to “two historic anniversaries” —Mrs Thatcher's 30 years as MP and ten as prime minister.
He reminded his guest that she had once predicted “there would never be a woman PM in her life time” .
“You were proved wrong,” said Mr. Thurlow, “but you have been right ever since.”
“We have got our inspiration from you and we have changed history over the last ten years.
“This government has put the pride back in to Britain.”
Concluding his speech, Mr. Thurlow presented Mrs Thatcher and Dennis with a Waterford crystal bowl.
Delighted with the gift, Mrs Thatcher gave a rousing speech before her most steadfast supporters.
“We had the first real positive programme to put to the people. The early years were very difficult because we had to take drastic steps to get the economy right.”
The milestones in her years as PM were highlighted. She paid tribute to the task force who went 8,000 miles to fight for the Falklands “showing to the entire national community that there is an internation law which we have to obey,” and the thawing of the Cold War with talks between Reagan and Gorbachev.
Her more recent years had “regained the soul and confidence of the people” , she said.
“Thatcherism did not just come out of Thatcher but out of the best in the people.”