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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 10:52 GMT
The Labour MP who defied the odds
Dunfermline and West Fife MP Rachel Squire has died after a lengthy illness. The BBC Scotland news website looks back at her career.

Rachel Squire
Rachel Squire suffered a stroke in June last year

Rachel Squire was born in Carshalton, Surrey, in July 1954.

She studied at Godolphin Girls School before gaining a BA (Hons) degree in Anthropology from the University of Durham.

She completed a certificate in social work at the University of Birmingham and worked as a social worker in the city, as well as acting as a trade union official for the National Union of Public Employees (Nupe).

She moved to Scotland to become assistant agent for Tam Dalyell MP in Linlithgow before entering parliament herself in 1992 to represent the constituency of Dunfermline West.

During her time in the Commons, she became one of the most committed and successful constituency advocates in parliament.

Defence expertise

She fought to secure regeneration funds for her seat and also helped to secure the future of the Longannet coal mine, although it was eventually forced to shut in 2002 after an underground flood.

Her seat is also home to Rosyth dockyard, and in the course of campaigning on its behalf she acquired considerable expertise on defence matters.

She was a constant contributor to defence debates and a supporter of high levels of defence spending. She served as a member of the Defence Select Committee and also sat at NATO's parliamentary assembly.

Rosyth dockyard
Ms Squire's constituency took in the Rosyth dockyard

The MP served as a personal private secretary to education ministers Stephen Byers and Estelle Morris throughout the 1997 parliament, but returned to the backbenches in 2001.

Serious illness first became apparent in 1992 as she was about to celebrate her first year in Westminster.

Ms Squire began having trouble writing but dismissed it as the onset of arthritis.

Headaches and poor vision led to hospital tests which showed a brain tumour doctors believed had been growing for more than five years.

For 14 hours, in March 1993, surgeons operated on such a wide area it left a scar that stretched from her left ear to her right. Radiotherapy treatment followed.

Her particular type of tumour had a poor prognosis, with most of those affected dying within two years of diagnosis.

European aid

Ms Squire defied the odds, made a remarkable recovery and became a patron for the charity Brain Tumour Action.

She returned to work and fought hard to save Longannet, Scotland's last deep coal mine. Her efforts paid off when 35m of European grant aid kept the pit open.

She also campaigned against plans to axe a Scots Army regiment and fought to get a temporary stay of execution for Rosyth Dockyard.

Late in 2004 Rachel and her US-born husband, Allan, were rocked by news of a second tumour.

The operation to remove it was a success but her facial nerves were affected, leaving her unable to completely close and blink her left eye.

She suffered a stroke, caused by bleeding on her brain, in June and was admitted to the Western Infirmary in Edinburgh.

Labour MP in hospital with stroke
03 Jun 05 |  Politics
Rachel Squire
17 Oct 02 |  UK Politics

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