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Last Updated: Friday, 19 August 2005, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
The day I met Mo Mowlam
Thousands of people have sent emails in to the BBC News website to pay tribute to Mo Mowlam.

Many mention her political achievements and others her magnetic personality and sense of fun. Several readers recall their impressions of Mo Mowlam on the day they met her.

Mo Mowlam
Duncan Castle says his flight with Mo Mowlam is proof you can enjoy the company of a politician.

Back in April 1999, I thoroughly enjoyed a flight to Casablanca, solely due to the fact that one of my fellow passengers was Mo Mowlam.

She was off to Marrakech for a week, to recover from the struggle of bringing lasting peace to Northern Ireland and wasted no time in getting away from it all.

I remember her brash laughter throughout the whole journey, with ample servings of wine and an open invitation for us all to play cards.

Her attitude was whole-heartedly refreshing in the stuffy confines of business class, with Ms Mowlam cleaning up at the card game Cheat - at my expense.

On arrival Mo was whisked away in a diplomatic car (much to her genuine embarrassment), leaving us with a smile, a wave and fond memories of meeting a genuine people-person and a lover of life.

Saul Billingsley worked briefly in Mo Mowlam's House of Commons office in 1993.

I remember her as someone who was full of energy and good humour - rushing in from meetings and charging out again, chain smoking and swearing like a trooper.

She was immensely likeable.

She was also considerate and very kind - I was a cash strapped just ex-student and she offered to help with a loan for a deposit for a flat. It's not the kind of kindness you forget.

She had a very rare gift as a senior politician of being a real, warm hearted human being.

A year or so later, when I'd helped to organise a Labour event she spoke at, she sent me a thank you note. She was the only politician to do so, there was no mileage in it for her - it was just another act of kindness and thoughtfulness.

Karl Boyce met Mo Mowlam at Stormont Castle when he was 17 and shadowing a political correspondent.

The undoubted highlight of my week of work experience was a visit to Stormont Castle, where journalists were awaiting news of the progress in the peace talks.

Mo Mowlam greeted the press in her typical down to earth, straight talking style and after the conference, she gestured to me that she wanted to have a word.

I was a little bit concerned that maybe I had done something wrong but she sat me down to ask how I was get getting on.

She asked me about my ambitions to be a journalist and what I planned to do after completing my A-Levels at Methodist College Belfast.

She promised me that when I completed my studies, she would be happy to do a one-to-one interview with me.

Unfortunately I never got that opportunity, but I had met a truly remarkable woman, who has undoubtedly done more for the Northern Irish peace process than many give credit for.

Mo Mowlam was a politician who upheld the characteristics that most politicians fail to live up to in modern times - determination, intelligence, bravery and honesty.

Gaynor Nash remembers Mo Mowlam as a sporty and quick-witted school girl.

She was unmissable with her long blonde hair and her talent for sport, public speaking and drama.

Our all-girls school was ruled with an iron fist by our headmistress but despite her rebellious instincts, Mo thrived and was admired by her teachers, later becoming Head Girl.

Mo's talents for debate were nurtured by her favourite teacher Margaret Morley and she showed signs of the quick-thinking skills she would master in her political life.

When I recall Mo, I see a leggy athlete streaking over the hurdles or a determined hockey player racing down the pitch, blonde pigtails streaming behind.

I remember too her somewhat boozy antics when as a second year I was staying with a girl whose sister, Eileen, was friends with Mo. We impressionable second years were a little agog as sixth formers Mo and Eileen stumbled up the stairs after a night on the tiles!

We all knew she was destined for great things. How tragic that she was never really allowed to fulfil her full potential and that she has been taken from us so early in life.

Mo Mowlam stepped in to help Simon Gray stack boxes in time for a fundraising dinner.

I was a volunteer for Stonewall and helped out at a fundraising and awareness event.

We were running a little late, and I was still unpacking boxes of literature for the display, when I realised that people were arriving. I started moving the boxes out of the way, when I noticed someone helping me - it was Mo Mowlam.

I recognised her immediately, and knew she hadn't been well. I wasn't expecting any guest to help me out, least of all a politician.

I told her it was ok, and that I could do it, but she ignored me and said carried on helping.

Here was a remarkable woman who had survived a brain tumour, been an advocate for peace in Ireland and was a member of the Cabinet, mucking in. I couldn't help but wonder if any of her colleagues would have done the same.

We didn't really talk, only for me to say thank you, and for her to shrug off the gratitude with a smile, but its small things like this which made her close to the people of the UK.

Nick Stockton fitted Mo Mowlam with a microphone and she waltzed him round the auditorium.

I used to work at a conference centre in central London and one day Mo Mowlam was attending as a keynote speaker. My job was to fit her with her microphone.

I was very nervous at the thought of meeting an MP but from the minute she entered the room she was messing about and having a laugh with everyone.

When I finally managed to get her attention I fitted her microphone but she had nowhere to put the receiver. I suggested she held it in her hand but she just laughed and casually put it in her knickers much to my embarrassment.

She then grabbed hold of me and started waltzing with me around the auditorium.

She was a fantastic lady who felt more like a long lost auntie than a powerful politician. I'm truly sad that the 'people's politician' is no longer with us but am happy that I have my own personal memory of her that I will never forget.

Jamie Briers shared a stage when the politician received her Honorary degree from Teesside.

Mo had been awarded an Honorary degree and had also been give the Freedom of the Borough of Redcar, so they hosted a joint ceremony at a civic hall in Redcar.

We were backstage putting on our caps and gowns ready to start the procession, which consisted of Vice Chancellors, senior businessmen, Chief Constables and district judges.

But to their annoyance Mo made a beeline for me, I guess it because I was different and at least 30 years younger than the average age of Governor.

During the sit down meal she ignored protocol (and her seat at the top table) and wandered around giving every person at the ceremony a piece of her time, in return for a piece of food of their plate.

Somehow she managed to be so normal, yet so special.

Wayne Goodwin met Mo Mowlam when he was serving as a Military Police officer in Belfast.

She was good humoured and friendly and already well respected by the military and the wider community.

She visited the police station I was working at during the marching season of 1998.

There were the usual amounts of senior army and police officials around for her to talk to, however she made a beeline for the junior ranks.

She worked the 'other end' of the room spending a good 10 minutes talking to us about how we thought operations were going.

This meeting only went to increase the admiration I had for her as a politician as well as a person.

She kick started a process in Northern Ireland that is now showing real progress again and she will be missed.

Richard Terry shared his cigarettes when Mo was struggling to kick the habit.

I was having a cigarette outside a Question Time studio, when two limos pulled up and out came Mo Mowlam, David Steel and Ian Duncan-Smith.

The others just swept passed ignoring everybody but Mo idled up to me and said "go on, spare me a ciggie - I'm giving up and haven't got any". I did and we chatted away as if we'd known each other for years.

Later in another break she caught my eye and motioned to go outside for another sly smoke and we carried on as before with her telling several very funny and a little risqu anecdotes.

At the end of the show Mo came down into the audience, plonked herself down by two old ladies and was having a whale of a time laughing and joking with them.

As I passed on the way out she reached out to say thanks for the smoke and bye - we parted just like two old friends.

When Arjamand Farooqui's uncle died, Mo Mowlam, paid the family a visit.

My dear uncle had passed away; a good man with a big heart who helped his community.

We had spent the week at my cousin's house, greeting people who came to pay their respects to my uncle, from the morning till late at night.

I had to sleep downstairs in the lounge as there wasn't a bed for me. I was woken the next morning with my mother shaking me, telling me, "Wake Up! We have an important visitor!"

I looked out of the window and all I could see were two black cars with their windows all tinted. Four guys jumped from the vehicles, suited and booted, wearing sunglasses and earpieces. Then out came Mo.

Still half-dazed I got up as she entered the room and introduced myself (I didn't want to get too close as I hadn't brushed my teeth!).

She sat down next to my auntie, holding her hand. At a time when political tensions were running high in Northern Ireland, with the media creating hype as usual, here was Mo, sitting in my auntie's living room.

I found out later that Mo had known my uncle for nearly 20 years. Being a strong Labour supporter, they worked hand in hand, to the benefit of the local community.

It made me happy to know that my uncle was remembered by others for the good work he did, just as Mo's efforts to make this country a greater place will not be forgotten.


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