A PASSION to look after the vulnerable is what Tory Maria Hutchings says prompted her to go into politics.

She is a campaigner for special needs children and carers and is known for tackling then prime minister Tony Blair over the closure over special schools.

Mrs Hucthings worked for 27-years in industry as a communications consultant and has also been a radio broadcaster but has given up her full-time job and now runs a series of community projects including Eastleigh Job Club which aims to give people the skills and confidence to get back into work.

Before the MP expenses scandal was exposed Maria says she had already pledged not to claim a second taxpayer-funded home in London but to commute.

She is from Essex originally but studied social sciences and public administration at the London School of Economics and Goldsmiths.

Mrs Hutchings moved to the county more than two years ago with her husband Stuart who is group marketing manager for a number of electronics companies.

The 48-year-old mum-of-four believes living in West End with her children schooled locally means she can fully appreciate the issues that matter to the people of Eastleigh.

She said: "After years of campaigning, I realised that the Labour Government had not only let down the most vulnerable in society but the whole nation and so I wanted to do something about it."