Lana Hempsall - Who I Am

Many people - both online and on the doorstep - have been interested in Lana Hempsall's background, and have asked what drove her to stand for Parliament. So we interrupted her campaigning to find out a bit more about her. Here's what she told us:

I was born in Chiswick, London but moved shortly afterwards to Portsmouth where my younger brother was born.  Our family lived on a very modest income from my father’s salary as a shop assistant in a carpet shop.  I spent my first few years on a rough council estate before my mother decided enough was enough and moved us all to her native Slovenia, part of former Yugoslavia.  I experienced first hand what a socialist utopia feels and looks like and this is the very last thing I wish to happen to our country.  

Living abroad I was mesmerised by Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and world leaders generally.  I dreamed of one day working for the UN or World Health Organisation, making the world a better place.  I had no idea how I would achieve this as my only asset was my birth right of a British passport that would allow me to travel anywhere in the world; we lived on an impossibly low income, a whole family co-habiting in one room.  

Things got even worse when I was 14, when I started losing my sight and my mum managed to raise enough money for a return flight to the UK where I was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease, an incurable congenital eye condition which would leave me completely blind by the age of 30.  

On my return to Slovenia, I was helpfully offered a place in an institution where I would be taught basket weaving to help me earn my keep with a promise that if I proved clever enough, I’d be trained as a telephone switchboard operator.  I had hoped to become a doctor, or maybe a lawyer, but I was told I would receive no support in mainstream education and if persisted with my silly ambitions I was on my own.  

I chose the hard route and yes, I was on my own.  I was offered a disability benefit package which would allow me to survive, but all  job prospects were pretty much closed to me, so I came to the UK to join my father.  

Living with a deteriorating physical condition is probably one of the hardest things a human being can go through.  Especially if you are young and just starting out.  I have made the journey from the brink of institutionalisation, because that’s what society used to do to children like I was, to university degrees, successful businesses, a wonderful husband and three children and a political career I am proud of because I dedicate my life to helping those less fortunate than myself, to those without a voice or a voice that won’t be heard.  

I have first hand experience of working in the NHS, I have first hand experience of teaching, I know what it takes to set up and run a successful business and I know how it feels to stand up for somebody who is being set upon by the system and stand my ground.  

Since moving to Norfolk with my family in 2005 I have thrown myself into the local community and have been a Broadland District Councillor since 2011 and a Parish Councillor since 2007.

My promise to Norwich South is that I will be the most hard working , local MP you could ever wish for, that I will stand up for our NHS, I will stand up for driving up standards in our schools, I will ensure Norwich South gets the best deal out of Brexit and I will prove to you that the conservative Party is a party that works for everyone and not just the privileged few.  I want to make sure that disabled people can take their rightful place in our society and aren’t simply parked, with benefits that just get them by.  

I am a Conservative.  I made a success of my life because a tiny handful of people believed in me when it felt like everything was stacked against me.  So I want to do the same for others and believe in the positive change we can make together.