Saturday, 6 September 2014

Did you know Mo?

Did you know Mo?

When I came to Redcar in 1987 I lived with my future wife at her parents house for a couple years. Not ideal we both found low paid jobs, planned to marry and were determined to buy our own property. Trouble was mortgage companies wouldn't touch us.

We were on the housing list too but the council couldn't help us. One time, while pushing for help at a glass fronted counter, we were flippantly advised to write to our MP. 

So we did.

I didn't know who Mo Mowlam was but she wrote back to us AND to the mortgage company we were dealing with. 

A few months later we had secured our first mortgage on a one bedroom flat in Redcar. We were thankful and wrote to Mo to express our gratitude. It was our first home and a place for us to grow.

And grow we did. House prices doubled and we suddenly had £18,000 equity. Now a young family, the flat was too small and no place for kids. It was time for me, my pregnant wife and 3 year old daughter to buy our first house. 

We both worked, still not great wages but enough to move on. We could just about afford to make an offer on a two bedroom house. Couldn't wait to get on and move out. 

Then disaster while my wife was considering maternity leave I was made unemployed. The building society would no longer entertain our application. In fact now we would struggle to pay our mortgage and faced defaulting. 

Gutted, I contacted all the building societies and banks I could to see if I could get a better rate over a longer term. Again, no one would touch us.

I desperately looked for work. I wrote letters, made appointments, randomly called in at businesses. I spent days on the phone going down lists in the yellow pages ringing employers and lenders. 

I remember looking at a job so badly paid that when I spoke with the counter staff at the benefit office, she giggled and told me I was better off on the dole!

I can still visualise me now in our flat, sat on the floor in our tiny windowless entrance hall, surrounded by closed doors metaphorically and literally, with the phone hanging off the hook, feeling utterly helpless. One of my lowest points to be honest. 

Out of desperation I wrote to Mo even though I KNEW it was hopeless. At the time I still didn't actually know her, had never met or even spoken to her to say hello. 

While Shadow Secretary of State for National Heritage, Mo wrote back. She remembered helping us 4 years previously and would get back to us as soon as possible.

In days she was negotiating a deal with my existing mortgage company that would see my father-in-law act as guarantor and with her providing a personal reference and recommendation as to my character.

She also put me in touch with local employers and trainers 'Inbiz'. 

In 1993 I had my mortgage on that house and began training to work for Samsung Electronics. I couldn't have done that without the help from this very special lady.

Thank you Mo.

Mo Mowlam was Redcar MP from 1987 to 2001 at her height she had a majority of 44.3% (21,667)

Did you know Mo? Did she help you? Please share your stories and experience of this wonderful woman.

At the end of September until December, Kirkleatham Museum has secured the loan of a portrait of Mo Mowlam from the National Gallery. More details to follow :)