10 Hampshire MPs and what they liked best about living in the county

With the general election on May 6, Hampshire MPs will be very busy canvassing at doors and making media appearances talking about party policies. But who are the people behind the politics? Sion Donovan talked to 10 Hampshire MPs to find out.

Andrew TurnerIsle of Wight MP since 2001 (Conservative) 

What’s your favourite childhood memory of Hampshire or the Isle of Wight?I didn’t visit the Island as a child – perhaps that’s why it always seemed a little bit mysterious! Being cut off from the mainland means things change that bit more slowly; many people would recognise the Island as rural England was before so many things changed in recent years. It’s a wonderful, safe place for a family holiday with lots to do. I’ve no idea why my parents didn’t discover it and bring me and my four sisters across as youngsters. What do you think is the Island’s most breathtaking view?As we are surrounded by water there are lovely coastal views all around the Island, particularly the iconic Freshwater Bay and the Needles. However, perhaps the best view is from the Solent as you approach the Island – I have lived here 13 years now but I still get a peaceful, uplifted feeling whenever I am coming home.

I have lived here 13 years now but I still get a peaceful, uplifted feeling whenever I am coming home

What’s your favourite restaurant?Actually in the summer you can’t beat a simple picnic looking out over the coast.  There are so many places to get away from the crowds that it’s a shame not to take full advantage of them.  Other than that – anywhere that makes good use of local produce and offers lots of choice. What’s your favourite Island pastime?Taking our rather odd looking (but much loved) dog Pickle along one of the beaches in the West Wight, she loves to paddle and chase her ball – she doesn’t like to go too deep though, so if it bounces awkwardly it’s me that has to go in to recover it. Has there been a person who has been an inspiration to you?Like many rural areas the Island is full of characters. However, I do miss Roy Westmore who passed away a couple of years ago. He was a churchwarden in Gatcombe for over 60 years and served his local community in so many ways. He was one of nature’s true gentlemen, unfailingly polite, but you were wise not to cross him.

Sir George YoungNorth West Hampshire MP since 1997 (Conservative)

Do you have a favourite childhood memory of the county?Walking along the track of the disused ‘Sprat-and-Winkle’ railway line in autumn, which ran between Andover and Redbridge.

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Do you have a favourite Hampshire view?  That would definitely be the Bourne Valley, from the A343 going north from Andover, at the top of the hill to the south of Hurstbourne Tarrant. Do you have a favourite restaurant?Hampshire has so many good restaurants – I’m not going to upset any of them by naming my favourite! What’s your favourite Hampshire pastime? Cycling on the tandem with my wife to a local pub for lunch. Who in the county has been a real inspiration for you? Lord Denning. Born in Whitchurch, he was regarded as the most celebrated English judge of the 20th century. He was known for his inquiry into the Profumo scandal, and in celebrated judgments he championed the wife, giving her equity in the family home, and overturned decisions of the war pension’s tribunal, refusing applications for pensions.

Mark HobanFareham MP since 2001 (Conservative)

Do you have a favourite childhood memory of Hampshire?I wasn’t born or brought up in Hampshire, but I remember the excitement of going on my first foreign holiday by ferry from Southampton. What do you consider to be Hampshire’s most breathtaking view? The Solent from Meonshore at dusk.  Where is your favourite place to eat?Oh, definitely at home. My wife is a great cook and after a hectic week in Westminster, I like to sit down with her over a good meal and a glass of wine and catch up on the week. 

I enjoy walking along the solent and the hamble and watching what’s happening on the water

How do you like to spend your time in the county?I enjoy walking along the Solent and the Hamble and watching what’s happening on the water.  Is there a person who has been an inspiration to you?Jim Callaghan, the only modern politician to have held all four great offices of state, was born in Portsmouth and is a great example of how people from modest backgrounds can rise to the top.

James ArbuthnotNorth East Hampshire MP since 1997 (Conservative)

 What is your best childhood memory of Hampshire? I remember a visit to Winchester Cathedral when I was about 10 years old, where I heard of the dangerous work under water to shore up that incredible building against subsidence and flooding. What’s your favourite Hampshire view?That has to be from what used to be our bedroom window in Froyle across towards the South Downs. Do you have a favourite restaurant?That would be Blubeckers in North Warnborough.It’s where our children always ask us to take them to celebrate their birthdays. What’s you favourite Hampshire pastime?Watching or flying in Chinook helicopters as they train.

Is there a person in the county who has proven to be a real inspiration to you?Jane Austen. The Pride and Prejudice author was born at Steventon Rectory near Basingstoke, lived in Steventon, Southampton and the New Forest before she was buried at Winchester Cathedral.

Dr Julian Lewis New Forest East MP since 1997 (Conservative)

Do you have a childhood memory of Hampshire?My childhood was spent in South Wales. Our family did not run a car and, sadly, I had no access to Hampshire until joining the Royal Naval Reserves as a seaman in the late 1970s. What’s your favourite Hampshire view?The sight of great liners passing Calshot en-route to the Atlantic. Do you have a favourite restaurant?There are far too many marvellous places to eat and drink in the New Forest for me to single out any of them. What do you like to do in your spare time? I enjoy touring the Forest (at the regulation 40mph, naturally) on a rather large motorcycle. Who has most inspired you?Someone not born here, but who died in the Solent – the First World War fighter ace and Schneider Trophy pilot, Flight Lieutenant Kinkhead. He was killed when trying to break the world speed record, he is buried in Fawley – and I have just completed his biography.

David WillettsHavant MP since 1992 (Conservative)

What’s your favourite childhood memory of Hampshire?I was brought up in Bormingham. I did, however, come down with my family every summer to Hayling Island. I have happy memories of playing in the water and on the sands of Sinah Warren.  

Having a barbecue on  Hayling Island beach in the summer is lovely

Do you have a favourite Hampshire view?It has to be from the South Downs, especially from Harting Down towards the north. We like walking there and looking on the hills and small villages. It’s very dramatic.  What’s your favourite Hampshire restaurant?That would be Nicolino’s in North Street, Emsworth. It’s a genuine family run Italian with a great atmosphere. How do you enjoy spending your spare time in the county?Having a barbecue on Hayling Island beach in the summer is lovely. Is there a Hampshire person who has been an inspiration to you?Ted Gale. He was a retired Hampshire police officer I knew in the 1980s and became my first agent when I started as Havant MP in 1992. Doing house to house campaigning was quite an experience because he would sometimes whisper things in my ear like “I did her husband for burglary for 20 years”.

Chris HuhneEastleigh MP since 2005 (Liberal Democrat)

What’s your favourite childhood memory of Hampshire?Family walks over the Downs in spring with the bluebells out on the hillsides.

Do you have a favourite Hampshire view?The Itchen water meadows from our home in Dutton Lane, Eastleigh, are hard to beat, especially with a drink in your hand on a summer’s evening.

What’s your favourite Hampshire restaurant?La Fenice in Eastleigh as it serves lovely Italian food and has a very friendly atmosphere.

The views of the itchen water meadows from our home in dutton Lane, eastleigh, are hard to beat

How do you like to spend your time in the county?I enjoy running up and down the Itchen Way. I also like to take part in the Eastleigh 10km for the Mayor’s charities.

Do you have a favourite Hampshire character? Colin Firth, not so much for his Mr D’Arcy but for his refugee work (and of course his backing of the Lib Dems).

Sarah McCarthy-FryPortsmouth North MP since 2005 (Labour)

Do you have a favourite childhood memory of Hampshire?As a child I had many aunties and cousins living locally and I remember some great picnics on the South Downs. That was lovely.

What’s the most breathtaking Hampshire view?From the Churchillian looking down to Portsmouth harbour from Portsdown Hill.

Do you have favourite restaurant?I like Rosie’s Winebar in Southsea. It’s got a lovely atmosphere, excellent food and a great wine list.

What’s your favourite Hampshire pastime?I enjoy walking my dog Dudley in Queen Elizabeth Country Park. We like to follow set routes and avoid any mountain bikes because Dudley barks at them.

Who is your favourite Hampshire character?Jane Austen. She published two of her most famous novels – Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility – while living in Chawton, near Alton.

Alan WhiteheadSouthampton Test MP since 1997 (Labour)

What’s your favourite childhood memory?I lived in London as a child, but my father lived in Hampshire until the war. He used to tell us about his childhood when he cycled 20 miles there and back to school at Tauntons College from where they then lived outside Romsey. I have always retained a strong image of this child cycling these prodigious distances through the country lanes of Hampshire every day for four years!

Do you have a favourite Hampshire view?The view along the Itchen outside Ovington does do the soul a power of good – and you can always retire to the equally beautiful Bush Inn for recuperation afterwards.

What’s your favourite Hampshire restaurant?The White Star in Oxford Street in Southampton, or maybe the Gurka Kitchen just around the corner.

A real life inspiration is Parvin Damani, Southampton’s first Muslim mayor. She has done so much to advance Southampton as the vibrant multicultural city it now is

How do you like to spend your spare time?This has to be watching Southampton FC, which I have done religiously for 40 years. It is a double pleasure now they are actually winning much of the time.

Is there a Hampshire character whose been an inspiration to you?I think King Canute deserves a better press. The memorial inscription just by Ocean Village in Southampton states ‘near this spot King Canute reproved his courtiers’. He was far wiser than history has recorded. A real life inspiration is Parvin Damani, Southampton’s first Muslim mayor. She has done so much to advance Southampton as the vibrant multicultural city it now is.

John DenhamSouthampton Itchen MP since 1992 (Labour)

What’s your favourite childhood memory?My first family holiday was in a caravan near Christchurch when I was about four-years-old. I remember playing on the beach. Christchurch is in Dorset now, but it was in Hampshire then.  What do you think is Hampshire’s most breathtaking view?  The Meon Valley from Old Winchester Hill.  Do you have a favourite restaurant in the county?The Peat Spade in Longstock. 

I enjoy playing village cricket for the Academics in villages like Mottisfont, Hambledon, and at the lovely flamingoes ground

How do you like to spend your time?I enjoy playing village cricket for the Academics in villages like Mottisfont, Hambledon, and at the lovely Flamingoes ground. Who is your favourite Hampshire character?John Arlott was a man of many talents; he was a poet, author and wine connoisseur. But above all, he was known as a cricket broadcaster for the BBC’s Test Match Special. He was born near Basingstoke and worked as a police sergeant in Southampton.

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