Former MP and Strictly Come Dancing star Ann Widdecombe was guest speaker at the October meeting of Crewkerne & District U3A. With so many members wanting to attend the meeting to hear her speak, the U3A did a quick step and changed the venue to Haselbury Mill. Chair of Crewkerne U3A Anne Bright said: “With more than 100 of our members having put their names down to attend, we decided that to accommodate everyone, we would switch to holding the meeting in the Tithe Barn at Haselbury Mill.”

Ann Widdecombe, a former Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary was the star speaker, in what has been a stellar year for the U3A who have been celebrating their 20th anniversary of starting the group in Crewkerne in 1997. Ms Widdecombe disclosed some of the tricks that her dance partner Anton du Beke used to get her through the rounds of the 2010 Strictly Come Dancing competition: “The less time your feet touch the ground the better,” he told her. Afterwards she joined the Strictly tour with judge Craig Revel Horwood.

Ms Widdecombe has subsequently appeared regularly in Christmas pantomimes and written many successful novels, including The Dancing Detective, about a murder committed backstage at a popular TV dancing competition. Ann’s talk was not just strictly for laughs, as she also spoke of her schooldays when with her father in the Ministry of Defence, her family was constantly on the move in this country and abroad, and of her 23 years in Parliament and some of the laws that she supported and opposed: “If anyone had told me this is how my life would turn out after I retired from Parliament, I would not have believed them,” she said.

Crewkerne U3A chair Anne Bright said: “Ann was hugely entertaining and spoke without notes. She was fantastic and because she is so much in demand as a speaker, we were thrilled that she came to our October U3A meeting.”

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