VETERAN singer Vince Hill, from Lower Shiplake, performed during Lady Thatcher’s first two election campaigns in 1979 and 1983, writes Dan Robinson.
He sang “Hello, Maggie” to the tune of Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly! on stage with Lulu at Wembley to introduce Lady Thatcher to a Conservative Trade Unionists’ rally.
The song was recorded and played as she visited heads of state around the world.
Four years later, Hill recorded “It’s Maggie For Me”, which he also performed at various venues during the election campaign.
The 79-year-old retired entertainer said standing alongside Britain’s only woman prime minister while performing in front of 7,000 people was a “great moment”.
He said: “I got there and they shoved me on stage. I started to sing with her by my side and next thing I know Lulu was next to me singing as well. I think we were on the front page of every red-top newspaper the next day. It was a fantastic moment that I’ll never forget. I was quite high profile in those days and I did take a certain amount of criticism from fans in certain quarters.
“We got invited to dinner at No 10 and had drinks with her in her private quarters. She showed me where James Callaghan had kept all his milk bottles.”
Hill, a former miner, said Lady Thatcher was a “brilliant and very strong” leader.
He said: “She was very honest and her tenacity was a great thing. She was determined to get what she wanted. She meant what she said and she said what she meant.
“She was a courageous lady to do what she did to get the country back on its feet from the doldrums it was in. In areas like South Wales you still can’t speak her name but no leader is absolutely perfect. The good things far outweigh the bad and I’m very sad to hear of the loss, even if it was inevitable. She was our greatest leader since Churchill.”
Reading Football Club chairman John Madejski, a past Conservative donor, called for a minute’s silence before matches this weekend but said he didn’t believe it would happen.
The Royals, who play Liverpool at home on Saturday, are already planning to mark the 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
Sir John said: “We have got to appreciate that Margaret Thatcher was a world leader who did so much for this country, so much that she deserves a minute’s silence.
“Obviously I can appreciate that perhaps some people won’t pay attention to it, which is sometimes the way at football, but she was such a colossus in terms of the world stage that she deserves that respect from the whole nation.
“No colossus like that strides the world’s stage without disenfranchising people at some stage or another.
“However, the positive things that Margaret Thatcher achieved for our country speak volumes and I think that outshines things that might not be considered so brilliant, like the poll tax and so on.”