After ten years in leafy Surrey, Edwina and her second husband, John Jones have gone back up north. They are in the Peak District in Derbyshire, close to the area she represented as an MP for 14 years, and where members of her extended family live.
Edwina and John met when he was a featured guest on her radio programme. He is a former senior detective with the Metropolitan Police and now advises media companies on the accurate portrayal of police and crime (eg recent Andrew Davies version of Othello for the BBC). He is also a media personality in his own right, eg Speed (Sky), Conmen (Thames TV) and Britain's Most Wanted (ITV). JJ is frequently heard on BBC Radio 5, Radio Scotland, Radio Wales and other stations.
The Joneses have a combined family of four sons,
two daughters, nine grandchildren and three great-grandsons who give them enormous pleasure. In addition they enjoy
the theatre and opera, walking their two dogs, researching family history (John’s goes back to the Conquest),
writing, and reading other people's books. John served two terms on Reigate borough council. "He became the second
politician in the family," says Edwina. “That makes debates over the kitchen table very lively.”
For 15 years Edwina was a volunteer at Nightingale House in Wandsworth, south London, one of the largest homes for the elderly in Europe, running the monthly residents’ Book Club. This only came to an end a year after her return to Derbyshire. “I recommend giving some hours as a volunteer,” she says. “The arguments in the book club got very heated even though the members were in their 80s and 90s. It was such fun”
“Edwina’s Nonagenarian Book Club” – Guardian 7th June 2008
John and Edwina enjoy raising money for charity, and like to combine this with keeping fit. Together they have done six long-distance bike rides for charity since 2002. A typical exploit was a 450km bike ride in Poland in September 2004 which they planned and helped organise. Some 80 cyclists started in Krakow and finished 4 days later at Marie Sklodowska Curie's birthplace in the heart of Warsaw, raising over £240,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care. The event won the 2005 Best Regional Campaign Award of the Institute of Professional Fundraising.
To get a real flavour of the fun and pain of these events, read Edwina's Sunday Times 2003 article: "Get on your Bikes and Ride!!!"
John and Edwina have also ridden from St Petersburg to Moscow for SCOPE, in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and a 3-day ride from London to Amsterdam, both for Mencap. In August 2005 they rode from London to Paris in three days with 100 other bikers for Marie Curie Cancer Care, finishing at the Sorbonne where Madame Curie won her two Nobel prizes. In September 2006, also for Marie Curie Cancer Care, came the Great 500. Almost 400 cyclists started from five different cities: Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Gdansk, and Vilnius, ending in Warsaw all on the same afternoon. Together, they raised over £1.3 million for the charity, "an amazing result," says Edwina. "JJ and I rode the Vilnius route and it was special for me as this lovely rural area of north-east Poland was where my grandfather grew up over a century ago."
September 2008 saw the Marie Curie Bike the Baltic ride, starting Warsaw and took three weeks to reach Tallinn in Estonia. There Edwina joined the cyclists for the last week-long 450km stage to St Petersburg, the final destination. 110 riders raised £500,000 from this event, an astonishing amount in the depths of the Recession. "Foul weather, the worst I've ridden in," was her verdict. "But the bikers were all great characters, and really helped me through." Then in August 2009 she joined 50 riders who cycled from London to Amsterdam in three days, raising another £80,000 for Marie Curie. Her ninth ride, and her last. “Over the years I’ve been through Russia twice, Egypt twice, to Amsterdam twice, Poland twice, and to Paris. Six of these JJ and I did together, three on my own. In all I’ve pedalled over 4,000 km, mostly covering 100km (about 60 miles) a day. It’s helped keep me fit and healthy. And I’ve lost count of how much money we’ve raised. When I look back I realise it’s been a fantastic experience. Whatever your age, I recommend it.”
The Last Ride – August 2009
Anyone interested should check out www.classictours.co.uk who organise these challenge events or your favourite charity’s website.
Interested in a cycling or walking holiday in Derbyshire’s beautiful Peak District? Then we can recommend www.peak-tours.com for a wonderful experience
In November 2011 Edwina was invited to become President of the award-winning Tideswell Male Voice Choir, based in the Peak District; husband John Jones promptly joined, first as a baritone then graduating to bass. The choir has taken part in the Cornwall International Male Voice Choir Festival 2013, the Bowdon Festival (Manchester 2013), and appeared at Gawsworth Hall, Stockport Plaza and (numerous times) Buxton Opera House, led by their Musical Director Dennis Kay. For details of their current concerts please visit www.tideswellmvc.co.uk
They have sung several times with the original Military Wives’ Choir.