Dispatch’s Denis scoops national media for exclusive interview with Maggie at Hucknall’s Rolls Royce

NHUD11-0130-2'Denis Robinson retirement.
NHUD11-0130-2'Denis Robinson retirement.

AN undoubted highlight in my career of nearly 60 years with the Dispatch was my exclusive interview with Margaret Thatcher, writes former chief reporter Denis Robinson.

This took place in the summer of 1977. Mrs Thatcher had defeated Edward Heath in the Conservative Party leadership election two years earlier, making her the first woman to lead a major political party in the UK.

Margaret Thatcher suffered ill health during her later years.

Margaret Thatcher suffered ill health during her later years.

If my memory serves me correctly, Mrs Thatcher paid a whistle-stop visit to the Broxtowe constituency to support the Conservative candidate in a by-election. She and her entourage had somehow given pursuing media the slip.

But with a bit of very useful local knowledge, the then Dispatch photographer, Brian Pickering, and I was aware that Mrs Thatcher would be travelling back to London by helicopter from Hucknall’s Rolls-Royce airfield.

We waited in a hangar and pounced just as Mrs Thatcher was about to board the chopper. I rushed up to fire three quick questions while Brian got a photo of the interview.

I remember asking Mrs Thatcher if she hoped to become Prime Minister and she replied: “We will have to wait and see.”

I had to memorise that final comment because a pen I was using suddenly ran out!