SHE has worked in the healthcare sector for more than 30 years.
Now UKIP candidate Diane James is hoping to inject some new life into Eastleigh by becoming its new MP.
Born in Cambridgeshire Mrs James was the third daughter of an engineer father and a devoted housewife.
The couple had been trying for years to have a family, but Mrs James two older sisters died before she was born.
The 53-year-old has looked up to her mother ever since, heaping praise on her determination to overcome adversity.
“My sisters were both older than me so I’ve got no real say on that. All I do know is that it affected my mum,” Mrs James said.
“She and my dad have done an absolutely fantastic job in terms of bringing my sister and I up. She is a very brave and courageous lady to continue having children until they got there and had a family.”
Having had two happy and healthy daughters the family moved to the Medway towns in Kent when Mrs James was four.
She attended a small village school before achieving a place at Rochester Girls Grammar School and going on to read business studies and tourism with languages at Thames Valley University.
Graduating with a distinction and becoming fluent in French and German Mrs James made full use of her multilingual talents by taking up a role with a German pharmaceutical company.
After jobs at two other firms in the health care industry she moved into the healthcare agency field in the 1980s.
A three-month stint living in Boston, USA, followed, where she learned about the American healthcare system.
Mrs James said: “That was a fantastic opportunity from the point of view of really getting to grips with the US health care model and very valuable to me in that a lot of what I saw there, both the good aspects and the negatives, are very slowly being rolled out here in the UK.
“I had a very good feel for why the US model is quite frankly failing and the pitfalls that are there if the UK doesn’t get it right.”
Mrs James eventually set up her own international consultancy business, interpreting healthcare policy across the world to help companies make their products successful.
But politics soon came calling.
After supporting the Conservatives her entire life Mrs James became “totally disillusioned”
by the way the party was being run.
When a by-election was called in her current home village of Yewhurst in Surrey in 2006 Mrs James stood as an independent.
As she recalls, she came “from nowhere”
to take a seat that had been held by the Tories for 18 years, winning a berth in Waverley Borough Council.
She retained the seat a year later, before standing again for election in 2011, romping to victory with 74 per cent of the vote.
Mrs James said: “I’ve been involved in politics for seven years now and I’ve learned a hell of a lot.
“I’d made this point to a number of people who had questioned me: did I want to be an MP? And it finally came home to me in a big way last year that I did want to try and follow that as an ambition.
“I did a lot of soul searching and I decided that UKIP was the only party that I could perceive as credible and see where I would fit.”
Owner of two rescue dogs, a deaf white border cross, Casper, and collie-retriever cross, Skye, Mrs James likes nothing better than a walk in the park.
But she knows the Eastleigh by-election will be anything but that come Thursday.
Diane James factfile:
- Date of birth 20/11/1959
- Place of birth Bedford
- Favourite TV show Spooks
- Favourite band Simple Minds
- Favourite sport Rugby
- Favourite rugby team Gillingham
- Hobbies/interests Dancing – enjoys ceroc and leroc. She also spends around two and a half hours on a “normal” day walking her dogs.
- Interesting fact Diana has completed three half-marathons in the time of 1 hour, 36 minutes. She stopped running seriously in 2001.