There will be an unfamiliar face in Lagan Valley in the run- up to election day on May 7 as Conservative newcomer Helen Osbourne fights her first election in Northern Ireland.
Mrs Osbourne, who is a councillor in Winchester, has been selected by the Conservatives to fight sitting MP Jeffrey Donaldson in the upcoming election.
Mrs Osbourne doesn’t live in Lagan Valley, or indeed in Northern Ireland, however she says this gives her a fresh perspective on the issues in the area and puts business and education at the top of her agenda.
Having worked for many years for the Department of Education and now in the world of financial services, she maintains she is ideally placed to use her knowledge to boost both the economy and the schools in Lagan Valley.
Mrs Osbourne, who has been nicknamed ‘The Terrier’ after fighting an election in Winchester five times before finally getting elected last year, said she will show the same tenacity in Lagan Valley and is “playing the long game”.
She continued: “People realised I wasn’t a talker, I was an actioner.
“They saw I am a hardworking mum, the primary breadwinner and a modern woman who faces the same struggles as everyone else.”
Mrs Osbourne explained that she received a telephone call asking if she would be interested in running for election in Lagan Valley and, despite not living here, she is adamant that she would relocate if she was elected to represent the people at Westminster.
“I love Northern Ireland and I think Lagan Valley is great,” she continued. “The economy is growing but it still needs a boost.
“I have a business background and I want to see more support for local businesses and more jobs.”
She acknowledged that she had a hard fight ahead against the local candidates, however, she said: “This is a long term strategy.
“It is good for local residents to see there is an alternative and something different from traditional politics.
“I want people to reflect on what their current MP has done.
“Have you had all the investment you could have had? Has he made the right decisions over the years? Has he been a vocal supporter of local businesses? Possibly not as much as he could have.
“I want to stir things up and get people to ask if he is still the strong voice they need or maybe they need a new, fresh face.”