When I got into politics in 1998, my first ever staffer was Sally McNamara. She’s also the Gold Standard by which subsequent staffers are rated. A new politics graduate from Nottingham University, she joined our euro-candidate team ahead of the 1999 election, and did a first-rate job as Press Officer. She then continued as Press Officer for me and Chris Heaton-Harris after the election for three years, then came to Brussels as my researcher until the next 2004 election. In the Summer of 2004 she went to Washington on a sabbatical with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who offered her a full-time job. She was later hired away from ALEC by the Heritage Foundation, and just recently left them to take a senior position in government relations with US defence contractor Raytheon.
Occasionally interviewers ask me what I consider to be the greatest achievement of my political career, and I reply that the thing I shall be proudest of is the subsequent achievements of former staffers who have passed through the Helmer Office. Sally heads the list. I hope and believe she learned something from me about politics through the years, but these days I am happy to seek her advice, and grateful for her very clear and incisive political views.
So I was delighted to go to Nottingham on Saturday May 26th to attend Sally’s wedding to her American fiancé Joshua Culling. It was a wonderful day of brilliant and uninterrupted sunshine, both literally and figuratively, with a splendid reception at Colwick Hall Hotel, former home of Lord Byron. It was also an opportunity to catch up with other former staffers of various MEPs who had been particular friends of Sally, and were there at the wedding, as well as some of Sally’s former Heritage colleagues.
The photo above shows me before the ceremony with Sally’s sister, who was chief bridesmaid. A photo with Sally herself should be in the system and I hope to have it shortly.
I wish Sally and Josh all the best in their new life together in Washington, and I shall continue to watch Sally’s career with huge interest.