WHILE international and national politicians recalled the life and times of arguably the most significant figure in modern politics, it was also an opportunity for the public of Ellon and surrounding area to reflect on the passing of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
When Lady Thatcher visited the town in 1977 she was Conservative Party leader, but on her way to high office.
According to Bob Duncan, himself a rising star on the local political scene at the time, her leadership qualities were already in evidence.
Mr Duncan was a councillor on Gordon District Council, and part of a delegation from both the Regional Council and his own authority.
He said: “She had been invited to support our fight to stop pollution of the River Ythan, and appeared very knowledgeable about the North-east. She was most impressive, you could tell she was going places, presenting herself with great authority.”
Mr Duncan recalled that as a gesture of thanks they had a given her a pearl brooch.
He added: “The pearl was in fact one of the last farmed from the Ythan. I hope it is kept in a place where it can be seen by the public. It represents a nice part of our local history.”
Local Tory councillor Gillian Owen recalled joining the party at 15, admitting to being inspired by Mrs Thatcher.
She explained: “I joined in 1980. My formative years were dominated by her. She inspired not only me but a generation who were concerned with the concept of individual liberty and responsibility. We also felt she was presenting us with a great opportunity.
“It was a sad day for me on Monday, as I feel I have lost an inspirational leader. I am proud of the fact that she is considered by many men to have been the greatest modern PM of our age.”
The theme of a woman at the top resonated with local business woman Heather Johnston who said: “Her appointment was a major breakthrough for women in a male dominated world. She had to be admired.”
Joe Russell of Newburgh said: “Thatcher was with the possible exception of Clem Atlee the only PM since the war whose thoughts words and deeds were motivated by a genuine belief that she was doing good for all the people of the United Kingdom.”
But as in life Mrs Thatcher had her detractors in death. Former Ellon Times journalist Derek Pyper dismissed her claims to greatness. “She will not be missed,” he said.
John Rae of Esslemont in Ellon was equally unsure of her place in history, saying: “She had her moments of fame during the Falklands War which she shamefully exploited.”