|1 Sep 2023
We recently caught up with OW Seema Kennedy OBE, who left Westholme in 1993, and has since made a positive impact on lives all around the UK throughout her time as a Solicitor, Member of Parliament, as well as Chair, Trustee, and Director of numerous Civic, Social, Healthcare, and Non-profit organisations.
When asked about her time at Westholme, Seema recalled:
“My favourite subjects were English Literature, taught by my inspirational teacher, Jean Asher, who is still a friend, and French.”
“I participated in lots of clubs and activities, but my favourites were definitely being part of the sports teams. I loved playing netball and badminton in the winter and athletics in the summer. I have very happy memories of travelling back from matches on the minibuses.”
“Doing Duke of Edinburgh up to gold level gave me a passion for the countryside and being outside.”
Following her studies at Westholme, Seema continued to the University of Cambridge where she obtained a First in her Bachelor of Arts in Persian and French. She admits the transition was difficult initially due to the significant difference in educational environment, from “a small sixth form of girls (there were only 48 in the Upper Sixth by the time I left!) to a college of 300 men and women in a university of thousands.”
“I didn’t really enjoy my first two years at Cambridge, but grew up a lot when I went to study in Paris for a year, and thrived in my final year.”
We were glad to hear Seema continued her passion for sport as she played badminton for university. She also continued to give-back to the community and those around her, taking up charity work alongside her studies and other endeavours.
Following university and an initial career as a solicitor, Seema transitioned into her political career and was elected as Conservative MP for South Ribble in 2015. In 2017, she became the first female Parliamentary Private Secretary to a Conservative prime minister and continued to roles including Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Office in 2019.
During her political career, Seema alongside Rachel Reeves MP, followed the incredible work of Jo Cox MP to solidify the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. Following the establishment of the commission by the remarkable Jo Cox MP, Seema continued to develop strategies to reduce loneliness in the UK. The establishment continued to work with 13 charities across the UK to produce a report outlining how to combat loneliness in the UK, motivating not only governmental action, but that of other public sector leaders, businesses, communities and individuals. Their work has had a profound impact on thousands of lives across the UK, and led to the UK government being the first to publish a loneliness reduction strategy. You can read more on the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness here.
When asked about where she has progressed since stepping down from Parliament, Seema responded:
“I am the Executive Director of Fair Civil Justice, a legal advocacy group. I also have non-executive board roles at the water regulator, OFWAT, and the Independent Healthcare Providers Network. I want to carry on working for as long as I can, but combining it with a lot of travel.”
Finally, we asked for her advice for current students at Westholme:
“Delete all social media and get outside into the lovely Lancashire countryside!”
We are immensely proud here at Westholme to have alumni as dedicated and passionate as Seema Kennedy OBE, and we look forward to welcoming her at future Westholme events.
You can read more about Seema, her career and projects here: