DAME Cheryl Gillan, the first woman Welsh secretary, has died at the age of 68.

The Prime Minister joined many politicians paying tribute to the Tory MP for Chesham and Amersham, hailing her as "wise and full of good humour".

Who was Cheryl Gillan?

Cheryl Gillan, 68, was Tory MP for Chesham and Amersham in Bucks.

However, she was born in Llandaff, Wales.

Her maternal grandad, William Freeman, a Merchant Navy sea captain, was killed in 1941 when his ship was sunk by a Nazi U-boat, writes Wales Online.

In a profile piece on her, BBC News explains that she spent the first 11 years of her life in Wales, living on family farms near Usk, and that Gillan said her heart was always very much in Wales.

She was educated at independent Cheltenham Ladies College and the College of Law.

She was always keen on politics, and after a stint as a marketing executive, Gillan was elected as an MP in 1992.

Described as a Eurosceptic back in 2010, the BBC said she served under John Major as junior minister in the Department for Education and Employment.

She bravely chased a mugger in 1997 after he pinched her handbag with her Commons pass, screaming "stop thief" at him.

The MP was at one stage a Conservative spokesperson on trade and industry, foreign affairs and home affairs.

And Gillan was the first woman to serve as secretary of state for Wales, from 2010-2012.


Aside from take great interest in prisons and the legal system, Gillan was a keen supporter of the arts and sport, the BBC said.

And away from politics, she sang with the parliamentary choir.

Gillan said she was "delighted to receive this recognition" upon being made a dame for political and public service in 2017.

Paying tribute to the MP today, April 5, Boris Johnson said: "I'm very sad to hear the news of the death of Dame Cheryl Gillan.

"She was a great servant to the people of Chesham and Amersham, to the Conservative Party and to the country as secretary of state for Wales.

"Always full of wise advice and good humour, she was much loved on all sides of the House of Commons and will be sorely missed.

"My sincere condolences to her family and friends."

How did Cheryl Gillan die?

Former Welsh secretary Dame Cheryl Gillan has passed away at the age of 68 after a lengthy illness, the Conservative Party has confirmed.

Co-chairman of the Conservative Party Amanda Milling said: "It was incredibly sad to hear that Dame Cheryl Gillan MP passed away at the weekend.

"Cheryl had been ill for some time, but battled her illness with great stoicism and grace."

Tory MP and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted: "So sad to hear we have lost (Cheryl Gillan) one of the warmest and most generous hearted people in the House of Commons.

"She was a formidable campaigner for autistic people, but also the definition of British stoical good humour – an enormous credit to her party and to Parliament."

Trade Secretary and Conservative MP Liz Truss tweeted: "Very sorry to hear the sad news about Dame Cheryl Gillan.

"She was a brilliant Parliamentarian, a kind colleague and great fun. We will miss her. All my thoughts with her family and loved ones."

Who is Cheryl Gillan's husband Jack Leeming?

Cheryl Gillan – the daughter of a former army officer – was married to retired civil servant John Coates "Jack" Leeming, explained the BBC.

However, he died in 2019, aged 91.

Dame Cheryl’s office said Leeming was a loyal Manchester United fan and former mathematics teacher.

It added that he would be “missed hugely by the many friends he made throughout his long life, who will always remember his warmth, his wit and his many kindnesses”.

The Bucks Free Press said the Cambridge-educated man was a senior adviser at the World Bank, and he was responsible for space policy, the Post Office and the films division at the Department of Trade and Industry.

Later, as director general of the British National Space Centre, and post-retirement from the public sector, Leeming was a key person behind negotiating Helen Sharman’s trip to the Mir Space Station.

How many children did Cheryl and Jack have?

Cheryl Gillan didn't have any children.

But she had her beloved dogs, including ones that she'd taken in from a rescue centre.

Gillan told Wales Online: “I don’t have children and when they [pets] died it was a bit like losing my children."

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