THE day Margaret Thatcher paid a top secret visit to Uxbridge is still vividly imprinted on the mind of Fred Teather.
Mr Teather was churchwarden at St Margaret’s Church in Windsor Street, Uxbridge, when in February 1989, the then Prime Minister opened the new nave, during the surprise visit.
“We weren’t allowed to know who it was who was coming because of security reasons,” said Mr Teather.
“The director of the church organised everything. He was the only one to know about her visit.
“It was a top secret mission. I remember her coming and all of the church members didn’t know it would be her.”
The Uxbridge visit was the only known occasions on which Mrs Thatcher – later to be created a baroness – came to the borough.
Seven years later, she was awarded an honorary degree by Brunel University, after the University of Oxford refused to give her the honour because of higher education funding cuts. The ceremony took place in the House of Commons, and not at the Brunel campus in Uxbridge.
On Monday last week, Professor Julia Buckingham, the vice-chancellor of Brunel, said: “Lady Thatcher was, for many people, an inspirational figure.
“She combined an unerring sense of purpose with the talent, determination and sheer force of character to succeed at the very highest level.
“Her period in power was marked by huge and controversial change in Britain.
“But the subsequent growth and development of this country is in no small way due to the work that was done at that time.
“She was undoubtedly among the most remarkable and influential politicians of the 20th century.”