FOR as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by women in my family who have gone out to work and worked really hard.
My earliest memories are of my nana working in the launderette at the Fens Shops.
Later she enjoyed working at Manor School. My mother was a hairdresser, working at Gloria’s, on Wynyard Road, and is still working behind the bar at events at the Borough Hall and the Town Hall Theatre.
I enjoy shocking people and seeing the reaction on their faces when, like at the Hartlepool Business Awards and Adult Learners Week celebration at the Borough Hall, I shout at one of the bar staff “The service in here is a disgrace! You should be sacked!” and then giving her a big kiss.
Little do people realise it’s my mother.
I’ve always had drilled into me since the earliest possible age the merits of hard work, and I have people like my mother and nana to thank for that.
Despite this, I want my mother to enjoy a well-earned retirement, something that sadly did not happen for my nana, who died whilst she was still working.
One of my big regrets in life is that I never had the opportunity to show her around Westminster – she was always too committed to her work at Manor School to come down when Parliament was sitting.
I’ve written in the past about this country ageing as a population, and that relatively good health in old age is far more prevalent than it was a generation ago.
I always think about the difference between my dad, who is as fit as a fiddle at 68 and who should really be getting a Pools season ticket for £100, and his father, my granddad, who was dead at the age of 58 and who was an old and sick man when he died.
Nevertheless, going back to the strong women of this town, I am concerned that many who are now in their 50s, will have to work up to two years longer before claiming their state pension.
The Government is bringing forward the date for State Pension entitlement for women at the age of 65, rather than 60, to the year 2018 rather than 2020.
All women born between April 6, 1953 and April 5, 1960 will be affected.
This has been brought in far too quickly, and without consultation by the Government, and its rapid announcement means that it is virtually impossible for many women in Hartlepool to plan for alternative pension arrangements.
I’ve had many women in Hartlepool write to me about this matter, but I haven’t seen much in the media.
I think this is a real shame, because the decision from the Government is unfair and will affect a third of a million women in this country.
There was a chance for this decision to be stopped in the House of Lords, but the motion was defeated with a majority of only 12.
However, I detect a growing head of steam about the matter and I hope that when the proposed decision comes to the House of Commons later in the year, us MPs will be able to throw it out.
For women who have worked all their lives in one way or another, whether it is bringing up a family, working in a job or, like my mother and nana, doing both, I think that is only fair.