ROAST DINNER’S AND ETHERIDGE GRAVY SAYS STAR
My next quest to find out more about the people in UKIP took me to Dudley, West Midlands where Black Country born and bred Bill Etheridge lives with his wife Star. I found out that despite a few near misses the couple finally met and then married in 2007.
Life’ has not been all plain sailing for the couple but have managed to build a strong foundation for their marriage,
The obvious question to ask Star was how did they meet?
“We met (after a few weeks of texting, phone calls & e-mails) on 28th Febuary 2007. We Married on 29th December (civil marriage) & had our BIG day 21st March 2008 (Good Friday) with a Humanist Celebrant. So been a mega whirlwind from then to now.”
What things bonded you as a couple?
“We both have same geeky likes, politics, Star Trek, Rock Music, football & horror movies. So started from very strong views on things we enjoyed. We were & still are enjoying those things today. ” says Star.
How did you both get involved with politics?
“We had a love of politics & when Bill and I first began talking we soon discovered we both shared an equal passion. A meeting of minds was part of how we knew we were good for each other. Cliché as it sounds but together we work as an amazing team. His & my skills & knowledge mesh together so any area one is weak on the other is strong. It was wonderful to meet someone who was so perfect for me. I’m a head strong & opinionated as is Bill but what makes us so good together is that we have no problem in telling the other when they’re being a prat.
We love rock music & as things transpired we found out we had been to some of the same concerts in our teens, same place, same date yet fate wasn’t ready to push us together then.”
How important is family values in your marriage?
“We have very strong family values. Sadly Bill & I cannot have a child together. I had to have a hysterectomy when my youngest was 9 months old. However, Bill & his family have taken my 3 children in & they’re treated as if they’ve always belonged. We all work together & it’s really wonderful when Bill is away because they all make sure I’m ok.”
We know your role as disability spokesperson for UKIP, however not everybody is aware of your own illness?
“Sadly not long after we got married the illness I suffer from hit me with a vengeance. I’d had symptoms on and off for years but always assumed I’d got flu, food poisoning, over doing things and all sorts of other reasonable excuses. Alas for me it turned out that I have an extremely aggressive form of Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS). It seemed within no time I’d gone from being a healthy go getting ambitious person to someone needing care & support.
My illness could have destroyed me but I haven’t let it. Thankfully my family have been there to keep me going. Bill is so wonderful, he’s had to learn to cook and so many other things since I’m unable to do them.”
Does Star’s illness effect the role as a councillor on Dudley MBC ?
“It is limiting in that I cannot access every property in the ward. However, people are very helpful and are always happy to meet me at my house or another place where I am able to access. There are times in the summer on the sunny days when I went to see people and when I arrived in my chair it is a bit of a shock and they seem to think they are inconveniencing me. I make sure they are aware that they are the taxpayers and they are my employers so it is not any inconvenience it is my job. Sadly there are times when I am only able to deal with matters on the phone or by e-mail,this is when I go into relapse phase. My body simply shuts down, the pain is off the scale and i’m not able to even get to the bathroom without help, I don’t want to discuss this issue much further because it is aggressive debilitating illness and its easy for people to look up the symptoms and the way it affects people”.
As well as clips of Bill in the European Parliament we are seeing more and more of Bill’s culinary skills on Facebook?
“Bill now excels in roast dinners. His gravy is mega! Since I became so chronically sick, Bill has had to learn to cook. He’s gotten very good at cooking in the 6 years or so.”
Bill’s Sunday Roast
Is the Sunday roast an important focal point for the family?
“It is very important and as Bill is away a lot he does like a very traditional Sunday. We only have the youngest and Bruce the UKIP dog at home. So it is mainly me, Bill and Bruce and I think that We must give Bruce his own plate of food because he isn’t happy watching us tuck in and he makes his opinion known. It is only when it is Bill cooks the meals that Bruce thinks he should dine with us, he must forget he’s a dog….lol”
How does Bill’s and Star’s political life effect their relationship?
“We got into politics together. Bill had expressed his wish to be an MP or a journalist, they were his dream jobs. I told him he could do it if he really worked at it & wanted it. I’ve always supported him in this endeavour & always will. I wish I was well enough to share the journey with him as an MEP or MP. Bill has already confirmed he wants a seat in Westminster as an MP”
However, it’s become obvious to us is that it’s best for one partner to be the one at home holding things together there. With the number of hours Bill has to work is horrendous. So it’s best for me to do that because I’m simply not well enough to do what he does. I wish I was but I’m not so got to get on with what I can manage from home via phone & e-mail. To be honest I think I do have the best side of the deal”.
Bill Continued to add. “I miss Star so much when I am away. The few times she has been over to Brussels with our lad it has been really great to have her there when I finish work, go to sleep and when I wake up even if I leave before she is awake. Sadly she is not well enough to make the journey to Strasbourg, a very beautiful place and I know she would love it. Travelling for 12 hours on and off trains would leave her in bed in the hotel for the whole time. It is just too much for her. She has done her usual investigations and through the Internet she has found a lovely man who will collect her from the Eurostar and take her to the hotel. He has a wheelchair access vehicle which there appear to be very few of. The first time we ever went we had a real battle there were no accessible vehicles, we managed to get an estate car taxi, Star had to transfer from her chair into the vehicle and the taxi driver and I had to lift the wheelchair into the back of the taxi. Not what we expected at all”.
Star elaborated by telling me about the care she receives from her youngest member of the family.
“My youngest son is in his final year of high school, he sits his GCSE’s next summer. It would be wrong for me not to be around to support him, kids need parents who give them a good role model & work ethic. He does also do a lot of caring for me when Bill’s away. We have intercom phones & if I need him he’s here in a flash. He’s learnt to cook, use the washer & other tasks which will serve him well as he gets towards leaving home.
And finally,some people say UKIP are the party of the anti-disabled. What would you like to say to these people?
If UKIP didn’t care about disabled people or those with chronic illnesses why would I be doing what I do? If it were true why would I, a disabled person support such a party? I’ve met so many people at UKIP conferences & other meetings who have all manner of disabilities. I think they like me would not support a party if we didn’t feel welcome, supported, cared about.
If you are visiting Star and Bill make sure it’s on a Sunday but don’t tell them I told you.