Virginia Hilda Brunette Maxwell Bottomley, Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone, PC, DL (née Garnett, born 12 March 1948) is a British Conservative Party politician and headhunter. She was a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons from 1984 to 2005. She was raised to the peerage in 2005.
Early life and careerEdit
Virginia Hilda Brunette Maxwell Garnett was born in Dunoon, Scotland, to Barbara Rutherford-Smith, Jarrow hunger marcher, a teacher and elected Conservative member of the Inner London Education Authority and W. John Garnett CBE, former director of what was then called The Industrial Society, grandson of physicist and educational adviser William Garnett. Her paternal aunt was Labour Greater London Council Member Margaret (Peggy) Jay. She first met Peter Bottomley, her future husband, when she was 12 years old; they wed in 1967.
Bottomley was educated at Putney High School, an independent school for girls in Putney in southwest London, before going up to the University of Essex to study sociology (BA). She later graduated from the London School of Economics with the degree of Master of Arts (MA).
She began her working life as a social scientist, researcher for Child Poverty Action Group, social worker, magistrate (Justice of the Peace), and Chairman of the Inner London Juvenile Court.
Member of Parliament and in governmentEdit
After unsuccessfully contesting the Isle of Wight in the 1983 general election (34,904 votes), she was elected to Parliament with 21,545 votes in a by-election in 1984 (filling the seat left vacant by the death of Maurice Macmillan, son of former prime minister Harold Macmillan), as the Member for South West Surrey, was PPS to Chris Patten and then to Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe, received her first ministerial position in 1988 as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of the Environment and was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Health in 1989. She was appointed a member of the Privy Council (PC) upon joining John Major's Cabinet as Secretary of State for Health in 1992 and served until 1995. She was the ninth woman in the British cabinet.
She then served as Secretary of State for National Heritage from 1995 to 1997. After the 1997 general election, she returned to the backbenches, and become a headhunter at Odgers, where she now chairs the company's Board & CEO Practice.
She stepped down from the House of Commons when the 2005 general election was called. On 24 June 2005 she was created a life peer with the title Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone, of St Helens in the County of Isle of Wight, the parish where she was baptised and celebrated her marriage.
She was called to court in 1995 to testify to explain why a bed was not available in a psychiatric unit in Crawley; 
Bottomley is involved with charitable and academic bodies in addition to business. She was on the founding Council of the University of the Arts, London. She was a Council Member of the Ditchley Foundation and was President of Farnham Castle, Centre for International Briefing. From 2000 until May 2012 she has sat on the Supervisory Board of Akzo Nobel. She was a non-executive director of Bupa, a healthcare company. She is on the Advisory Council of the International Chamber of Commerce UK (ICC UK) and was for the Judge School of Management, Cambridge. Bottomley has been a trustee and is a fellow of the Industry and Parliament Trust. She was National President of the Abbeyfield Society and a Vice-Patron of Carers and of Cruse Bereavement Care. She was a lay canon of Guildford Cathedral, and a Freeman of the City of London.
In 2006, she was elected and installed as Chancellor of the University of Hull, succeeding Lord Armstrong of Ilminster in April 2006. She was also appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey in March of that year and Sheriff of Hull in 2013.
During her time in Prime Minister John Major's cabinet, the satirical puppet show Spitting Image often portrayed Major as having an unrequited crush on Bottomley; years later, it was revealed that Major was having an affair with Edwina Currie at the time.
Bottomley's family includes many figures in politics and public life. Her brother, Christopher Garnett, was the chief executive of train operating company GNER. Her aunt Pauline married Roland Hunt who is not, contrary to persistent false rumour, connected to Sir Nicholas Hunt, father to Jeremy Hunt who succeeded her as MP.
Her cousins include Peter Jay (the former British Ambassador to the United States and son-in-law to James Callaghan), and Lord Hunt of Chesterton (father of historian and former Labour MP Tristram Hunt).
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- "University of Hull announces next chancellor – Baroness Bottomley". University of Hull. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2010.[permanent dead link]
- Martin, Lorna (19 August 2006). "The battle of Greenham Common is over. But their spirit still burns". The Guardian.
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- "Abbeyfield Society: Patrons". Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
- BBC Lord Mandelson picked for High Steward of Hull post Archived 13 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine, 7 February 2013; accessed 21 March 2014.
- Durham, Michael (12 July 1992). "Virginia's early summer of love, books and a baby". The Independent. London, UK. Archived from the original on 11 September 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
- "Biography at John Major site". Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
- Billen, Andrew (28 March 2008). "An entire political era was covered in rubber by Spitting Image". The Times (69283). London, England. p. 11. Archived from the original on 13 September 2018. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
- Davidson, Andrew (2007), "The MT interview: Julia Cleverdon" Archived 4 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Management Today, 28 September 2007; retrieved 3 January 2011.
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for South West Surrey
| Secretary of State for Health
| Secretary of State for National Heritage
as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport