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Ted Heath to be honoured with Westminster Abbey memorial

PUBLISHED: 13:08 27 March 2012 | UPDATED: 14:38 27 March 2012

Sir Edward Heath arrives at London's Guildhall for a luncheon hosted by the City of London Corporation, in honour of the Queen Mother in 2000

Sir Edward Heath arrives at London's Guildhall for a luncheon hosted by the City of London Corporation, in honour of the Queen Mother in 2000

Archant

Westminster Abbey is to honour former Prime Minister Ted Heath with a memorial plaque.

The abbey plans to erect memorial stones to Sir Ted Heath and Lord Callaghan within the next 12 months.

Sir Ted Heath was Prime Minister between 1970 and 1974 and represented Bexley as MP for 50 years and will follow in a long line of British premiers who are buried or memorialised in the Abbey church in Westminster.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said: ‘The men and women who have contributed most to our island story and our nation’s international influence are memorialised in the Abbey, including most Prime Ministers of the 19th century and of the first half of the 20th century.

“And yet no Prime Minister since 1956 has a memorial in the Abbey. I am happy to announce that I have decided with the support of those closest to them to include amongst those remembered in the Abbey two Prime Ministers from the 1970s, each of whom gave dutiful service in their own time.”

Ted Heath became MP for Bexley in 1950 and became leader of the Conservative party in 1965, before serving as Prime Minister from 1970 to 1974, taking Britain into the European Economic Community in 1971.

Boundary changes meant his constituency became Sidcup in 1974 and Old Bexley and Sidcup in 1983.

He retired as an MP in 2001 and had served as Father of the House, as the longest serving MP.

He died in 2005 and is buried at Salisbury Cathedral near his home Arundells. A memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey in the same year.

Tony Burnside who was a friend of Sir Ted and has successfully campaigned for his house in Salisbury to be opened to the public said: “It’s a most fitting to him.

“He probably was the only Prime Minister who excelled in disparate disciplines, as an international yachtsman, a conductor and a European statesman on the world stage.”

Fellow politician Mr Burnside knew Sir Ted in Bexley and said: “He popularised the idea of a candidate of a candidate walking in a group and knocking on people’s doors. That was a very personal element of shaking hands with people.

Further details of the location of the memorial stones within the Abbey church and of the dedication services will be announced later.

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