After ten years in leafy Surrey, Edwina and her second husband, John Jones have gone back up north. They are in the Peak District in Derbyshire, close to the area she represented as an MP for 14 years, and where members of her extended family live.
Edwina and John met when he was a featured guest on her radio programme. He is a former senior detective with the Metropolitan Police and now advises media companies on the accurate portrayal of police and crime (eg recent Andrew Davies version of Othello for the BBC). He is also a media personality in his own right, eg Speed (Sky), Conmen (Thames TV) and Britain's Most Wanted (ITV). JJ is frequently heard on BBC Radio 5, Radio Scotland, Radio Wales and other stations.
The Joneses have a combined family of four sons, two daughters, nine grandchildren and two great-grandsons who give them enormous pleasure. In addition they enjoy the theatre and opera, walking their two dogs, researching family history (John’s goes back to the Conquest), writing, and reading other people's books. John served two terms on Reigate borough council. "He became the second politician in the family," says Edwina. “That makes debates over the kitchen table very lively.”
Edwina is a volunteer at Nightingale House in Wandsworth, south London, one of the largest homes for the elderly in Europe, where she runs the monthly Book Club for residents. “I recommend giving some hours as a volunteer,” she says. “The discussions in the book club get very heated even though most of the members are in their eighties and nineties. It’s a lot of fun. I only hope someone is still running it when I get to that age and need it!”
“Edwina’s Nonagenarian Book Club” – Guardian 7th June 2008
John and Edwina enjoy raising money for charity, and like to combine this with keeping fit. Together they have done six long-distance bike rides for charity since 2002. A typical exploit was a 450km bike ride in Poland in September 2004 which they planned and helped organise. Some 80 cyclists started in Krakow and finished 4 days later at Marie Sklodowska Curie's birthplace in the heart of Warsaw, raising over £240,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care. The event won the 2005 Best Regional Campaign Award of the Institute of Professional Fundraising.
To get a real flavour of the fun and pain of these events, read Edwina's Sunday Times 2003 article: "Get on your Bikes and Ride!!!"
John and Edwina have also ridden from St Petersburg to Moscow for SCOPE, in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and a 3-day ride from London to Amsterdam, both for Mencap. In August 2005 they rode from London to Paris in three days with 100 other bikers for Marie Curie Cancer Care, finishing at the Sorbonne where Madame Curie won her two Nobel prizes. In September 2006, also for Marie Curie Cancer Care, came the Great 500. Almost 400 cyclists started from five different cities: Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Gdansk, and Vilnius, ending in Warsaw all on the same afternoon. Together, they raised over £1.3 million for the charity, "an amazing result," says Edwina. "JJ and I rode the Vilnius route and it was special for me as this lovely rural area of north-east Poland was where my grandfather grew up over a century ago."
September 2008 saw the Marie Curie Bike the Baltic ride, which started in Warsaw and took three weeks to reach Tallinn in Estonia. There Edwina joined the cyclists for the last week-long 450km stage to St Petersburg. The group of 110 riders raised some £500,000 for this event, which will go towards the charity's home nursing services and hospices for people with terminal cancer. "Foul weather, the worst I've ridden in," was her verdict. "But the bikers were all great characters, and really helped me through."
The Last Ride – August 2009
Anyone interested should check out www.classictours.co.uk who organise these challenge events or your favourite charity’s website.
Interested in a cycling or walking holiday in Derbyshire’s beautiful Peak District? Then we can recommend www.peak-tours.com for a wonderful experience