Page last updated at 19:11 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 20:11 UK

Cheryl Gillan, the first woman Welsh secretary

Cheryl Gillan
Cheryl Gillan arriving for David Cameron's first Cabinet meeting on Thursday

The first female Welsh secretary may not represent a constituency in Wales, but she was born in Cardiff.

Cheryl Gillan, who is 58, is Conservative MP for Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire, but was born in the city suburb of Llandaff.

Before entering parliament in 1992 Mrs Gillan was a marketing executive.

A junior minister for education and employment in John Major's government, she served as shadow Welsh secretary for the past five years.

Mrs Gillan is the daughter of a former army officer, who became director of a steel company, and a Wren, and has been married to retired civil servant John Coates "Jack" Leeming for 25 years.

She spent the first 11 years of her life in Wales, living on family farms near Usk, and says her heart is still very much in Wales.

CHERYL GILLAN AT A GLANCE
Cheryl Gillan MP
Born 1952, Llandaff, Cardiff and educated in Cheltenham
A lawyer, with background in marketing and management, including director of British Film Year
Elected as MP for Chesham and Amersham, Buckinghamshire in 1992
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department for Education and Employment 1995-97, then opposition spokesman on trade and industry, foreign affairs and home affairs
Shadow Welsh Secretary since December 2005
Married to retired civil servant Jack Leeming for nearly 25 years

She was educated at independent Cheltenham Ladies College and the College of Law.

Cheryl Gillan is one of the Conservative Party's senior female MPs.

Politically, she is regarded as being on the moderate right, and a mild Eurosceptic.

She served under John Major as junior minister in the Department for Education and Employment and was subsequently a Conservative spokesperson on trade and industry, foreign affairs and home affairs.

On becoming an MP she completed a parliamentary fellowship with the RAF and regards this experience, together with her family background, as giving her a special perspective on the future of the armed services in Wales.

A former shadow minister for constitutional and legal affairs, she also takes great interest in prisons and the legal system.

Mrs Gillan described herself as a keen supporter of the arts and sport.

Her interests include golf, music, gardening, animals and she has been Secretary of the parliamentary cricket team.

She sings with the parliamentary choir and is a fan of both Welsh male voice choirs and Gilbert and Sullivan.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan says she will be 'a strong voice for Wales' in the cabinet.

Mrs Gillan was one of the Conservatives named by the Daily Telegraph in the controversy over MP's expenses last year.

She repayed over £1,184 following a review of MPs expenses by Sir Thomas Legg.

She apologised and promised to pay back £4.47 claimed for dog food as part of her parliamentary expenses.

Mrs Gillan said the dog food claim was mistakenly submitted and that both of her dogs had since died.

One of Mrs Gillan's previous dogs, Tizzy, was a 1996 winner of the Westminster Dog of the Year competition.

In 1997, Mrs Gillan made headlines when she chased a mugger who opened the passenger door of her Land Rover Discovery and snatched her handbag, containing her House of Commons pass.

Cabinet meeting
Cheryl Gillan (sixth from the left) at David Cameron's first cabinet meeting on Thursday



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