Tessa Jowell is made a Dame - and pays tribute to Kentish Town health worker who was ‘inspiration behind Sure Start’

Shadow Olympics minister and former Camden councillor Tessa Jowell has been made a dame in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The Labour MP, who spent a decade at the town hall before joining the Westminster village, said she was “immensely proud” at being singled out for the honour.

She told the Ham&High: “I was absolutely speechless. I was told around six weeks before the public announcement but couldn’t tell anybody. I am incredibly proud and pleased.”

Ms Jowell launched her political career in Camden Council, where she met her first husband, the anti apartheid campaigner Sir Roger Jowell

A councillor for both Swiss Cottage and Gospel Oak during her years at the town hall, she led the way in creating pioneering children’s centres, shaping what came to be known as one of the most progressive Labour authorities ever.

“They were very happy times for me in Camden, certainly in the 1970s Camden was the most forward looking authority in the country”, she told the Ham&High.

“A high point was when I opened the Langtry children’s centre in West Hampstead. It was designed to provide childcare and provide training to mothers which meant they could either start their own business or get a job. It was pioneering. “There was money to spend on things that would extend to people who did not have the same opportunities of those middle class families who had books on the shelves and pictures on the walls.”

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The Shadow Olympics minister, who celebrated being made a Dame by raising a glass of champagne with friends, paid tribute to her own Kentish Town health visitor who she described as the inspiration behind Sure Start.

“Ciara Hayden was incredibly supportive I was thinking of her when I set up Sure Start,” she said.