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Councillor Kelly Parry: Getting to know you

Midlothian council leader Kelly Parry

Councillor Kelly Parry: Getting to know you

What’s your earliest memory?

I think my earliest significant memory was when I was about four or five years old, and I went to a rally during the miners’ strikes. We went down to Durham, and I just remember all these huge banners and everybody in support of the miners. That’s probably one of my earliest political memories as well.

What were you like at school? 

A nightmare. I was really clever at school, but I had a lot going on – I spent some time in care when I was a teenager. Thankfully I had an excellent teacher, Mrs Laidlaw, and she probably stopped me from becoming a terrible human being. She changed my life and probably doesn’t even realise it.

Who would your dream dinner date be?

I really like funny people so Brian Cox or Janey Godley. Actually, I think the three of us all together could be quite funny and interesting.

What is the worst thing that anyone has ever said to you?

Probably one of the worst things anybody’s ever said to me was when I was first elected, and I went to a meeting with lots of other councillors. I just walked into this room full of big, huge men, and the only person who spoke to me was a man who asked me if I was there to take the minutes. 

What led you into politics?

I had a bit of a career change – I worked in financial services for a while before I decided to go back into further and higher education, where I got more involved in activism and student politics. I just always had this sense of fighting for equality and making people aware of injustices. 

And did you stand for elected office immediately?

No, I didn’t. I went to work for the Scottish Funding Council for a while, and I only got involved in politics during the independence referendum. About a year after that there was a by-election in my local area, and I just got talked into it a little bit. I think women often suffer from impostor syndrome, so it took a little while to persuade me to do it. 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

My guiltiest pleasure is probably watching cheesy TV. My job is quite serious a lot of the time so, I will admit to watching EastEnders from time to time. It’s good just to let your mind escape.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I probably would not go very far back in time. If I could go back somewhere just for a day, it would probably be my wedding last year – it was just the best day. If I could go a bit further back, I would probably hang out with my son when he was little again. He’s 21 this year and I do miss him being a baby.

And what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

I’ve been really lucky to meet women in my life who have helped me. And somebody once said to me, ‘when you get through the glass ceiling, make sure you leave the door open for the next woman that comes through’. I always keep that in my mind. 

What skill should every person have?
Everybody should be able to sew and know how to use a sewing machine. I really got into sewing during the pandemic, but I’ve continued my love for it since. My little girl, who is six, makes me make dresses for her dolls and I just really enjoy it. It’s a really good life skill that everybody should have.

What’s the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?
I’m a woman, and women experience all the pain, don’t they? So, having children is probably quite up there in terms of pain.

What is your top film of all time? 

I love Christmas films – I start watching them in November. I will watch anything cheesy and Christmassy. My favourite Christmas film is probably The Grinch. I also love Disney films, and thanks to my six-year-old I’ve got the perfect excuse to see them. It means I get to watch Disney films and not look strange.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I think I will probably still be trying to make life better and more equal for people. I’m not quite sure yet whether I’ll be doing it in politics or somewhere else. But for the moment, I feel lucky to have an opportunity to make a change. 

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