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About Joan Walmsley

Baroness Joan WalmsleyJoan Walmsley hails from Liverpool where she also went to University. After graduating in Biology she went to work in the health service and after a number of years out of the workplace bringing up her two children she trained as a teacher and taught in the secondary sector. She then went into public relations where she worked for Hill & Knowlton for nine years before setting up her own business. She married Martin Thomas (Lord Thomas of Gresford) in 2005, and now lives in North Wales.

It was in 1986 that she became politically active in the Liberal Party when her late husband Chris Walmsley was the candidate in the famous West Derbyshire by-election (held by the Tories by only 100 votes). Since then she has held numerous posts in local Parties, as a constituency chair, fundraiser, press officer, agent and PPC.

In the wider party she has served on the Federal Executive, Federal Conference Committee and the North West Regional Executive. She has also served as Chairman of WLD and vice-chair of the Gender Balance Task Force.

Joan has also been involved in policy development. She chaired a working party on "Crime and Policing" and reviewed the party's policy on illegal drugs. On family and children policy, she chaired the working group on Early Years, which wrote the policy paper "Fair Foundations", and was a member of the group that produced the childcare plicy document "Stronger Families, Brighter Futures". She has recently been a member of the working party which produced the 5-19 Education policy paper, "Equity and Excellence".

She stood for Parliament in 1992 and 1997 and in the European elections of 1999. She entered the House of Lords in 2000 and was elected Convenor of the Liberal Democrat peers in 2014.

She is active in a number of children's charities including UNICEF, NSPCC, SKCV Children's Trust and The Infant Trust.

Expertise & Interests:

Education, from Early Years to Secondary

  • PGCE from Manchester Polytechnic 1979
  • Teacher - Buxton College 1979-86
  • Party Education and Children spokesperson from 2003-2013
  • Patron of 4Children, The Infant Trust and the Schools Funding Network

Children's Rights

  • Trustee of Unicef 2003 to 2009
  • Parliamentary Ambassador for the NSPCC, current
  • Patron of SKVC Childrens Trust, current
  • Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children, current

Botany and Horticulture

  • BSc (Hons) Botany 1966
  • Chairman of Botanic Gardens Conservation International from 2005-2013 and currently a Board Member

In 2017 Joan was appointed as the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader in the Lords.