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News Archive > General > Love again for local MP

Love again for local MP

By Natasha Swift 22nd May 2013

“I AM BOB Davidson’s plus one” beams South East Cornwall’s Conservative MP       Sheryll Murray as the couple speak out for the first time about their blossoming romance.
The pair opened up exclusively to the Voice last week to confirm they are officially an item.
Seizing the opportunity to put the rumours to rest about their relationship status, which surfaced following their first public appearance together at the Mayor’s charity ball in March, Bob and Sheryll have set the record straight about their six months together.
Campaign manager for the Conservative Party for Cornwall and St Austell town councillor Bob said their friendship had developed into something more serious recently.
Sheryll’s fisherman husband Neil was crushed to death when a toggle from his oilskin hooded jacket got caught in machinery as he was winching in his catch while out on his 10 metre vessel Our Boy Andrew during a lone fishing trip on March 24, 2011.
Since sharing their first kiss at a Christmas party in Westminster, Bob and Sheryll have become inseparable and are regularly spotted enjoying shopping trips together in the town.
The 42-year-old Scotsman, who used to be an agent to Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps and former leader of the Conservative party Michael Howard, said: “It started off with a kiss at a Christmas party. It was the worst kept secret in Westminster.”
More recently, Sheryll could be found knocking on doors across the Bethel ward canvassing for Bob, the Cornwall Tories’ election guru, in the local council elections.
“I never thought I would find love again,” admits the 57-year-old mother-of-two.
“I have worked with Bob since he came to Cornwall in 2006. We worked closely in the election and when Neil had his fatal accident Bob managed the whole thing for me because it was a big shock, so he got to know my kids and he started accompanying me to things.
“There are some events where you have to take someone else and because I was a widow Bob used to come with me. Things just developed between us.
“Clearly one of the first things I had to consider was how my children, Sally, 37, and Andrew, 25, would feel and so after a couple of months we told them and they are fine with it.
“They were the most important factor. I had to tell them before anyone else knew. Neither of us were looking for anything. I was self-sufficient but one thing that I did find was that if I was a home on a weekend then sometimes on a Saturday night it got really lonely.
“It’s nice to have someone to share things with and someone to discuss difficult decisions with and that’s the sort of relationship I had always had with Neil. I would ask Neil what he thought about something and he would always say, ‘Well, what does Bob think?’
“I’m pretty sure that Neil would be absolutely delighted that I have found someone to share my life with.”
Speaking about her late husband’s tragic death, Sheryll said: “It never gets better, but it gets more bearable. I will never lose what I had with Neil and the hurt that I felt when I lost him, but it’s almost like one chapter closes and another one has opened.
“The last text message I had from him was on the Wednesday and it was budget day and I was wearing a bright red suit and his text said: ‘Wow. You’re standing out well.’
“Bob took an awful lot of pressure off me and my family. I called Bob when I first knew he was missing. I made four phone calls. One was to my daughter, the second was to my son, then I called my brother-in-law and the fourth phone call was to Bob.
“Bob handled everything for me. He was fantastic.”
But it was not only Bob who offered Sheryll a shoulder to cry on during one of the worst times of her life.
“After Neil’s death, my son said you have to take this call, mum, it’s DC,” explains Sheryll. “That’s his name for David Cameron and the Prime Minster spoke to me and he understood because he had been through a loss. He lost a child.”
The couple can also count Grant Shapps amongst their closest friends and one of the first to know about their relationship.
After “coming out” Bob and Sheryll said they are now discussing their current living situation and hope to take the next step of moving in together.
Fitting their personal arrangements around their hectic working life, Sheryll now splits her time between her home in Millbrook and Penwithick, where Bob lives, depending on where surgeries are held in her constituency, which stretches as far as Luxulyan and the Eden Project.
But the couple said they realise it is only early days and are doing everything “by the book”.
Since becoming an item, Sheryll has registered with the Independent Standards Parliamentary Authority (IPSA), which is tasked with monitoring and controlling MPs’ expenses, pay and pensions.
She told the Voice : “I made it very clear when I went out on the doorsteps during the local elections and always said that I’m here as Bob Davidson’s plus one not as the MP for South East Cornwall. What is the point in denying or hiding anything.
"Bob was working in politics for over 15 years before I took him on when I became the MP for South East Cornwall.  His experience has been invaluable in my job and now our shared passion for politics makes our relationship work in what can often be a very absorbing and exhausting working environment.
“We were friends before so know each other extremely well. This would never have happened if Neil hadn’t had his accident. I think my constituents will be really pleased for me. I hope they will be pleased that I’m happy.”
While many couples don’t know what their plans are for next weekend, the couple, who had “Christmas by text message last year”, are planning to spend their first Christmas together with Sheryll’s children in Millbrook.
The pair said having an understanding of each other’s work commitments through their careers in politics is the key to their happy relationship.
A former member of the Porthpean International Youth Camp, Sheryll said: “We work together because it would be very difficult for me to find someone who could put up with being a partner in my job. Bob’s job means that he’s working 24/7.
“I will have my phone on and Bob will be emailing me at 3.30am and I’ll ask why are you emailing me at this time in the morning and more importantly why am I replying? We understand that these are the hours that we keep and it works.
“Neil worked unsociable hours. He could come home from sea at midnight. You can’t get used to someone being there from 5pm to when they leave for work at 7am.
“Bob knows me warts and all.”

By Natasha Swift 22nd May 2013

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