Monday, 15 August 2022

‘I remember seeing Queen Victoria’s coronation robe’

MICHELLE THOMAS was born in London. Her father Tom, now 80, worked in banking, and her mother Paula, now 77, was a civil servant.

She studied economics, social history and politics at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

She then worked in human resources in London but she felt her heart wasn’t in it so she took a year out to travel around Australia and Asia.

When she got back, she worked for the directors of the Museum of London for four years.

She said: “History has always been my first love and I loved my time at the museum.

“I remember seeing the conservationists working on Queen Victoria’s coronation robe.

“They spread it on the boardroom table because there wasn’t a surface big enough for it. Where else could you see something as amazing as that? But jobs at museums and galleries don’t pay very well and I was living in London at the time and my friends always seemed to have more money than me. I saw a little advert in a newspaper about a technology company looking for people to join their marketing department, so I applied and it turned out to be IBM.”

Cllr Thomas later left IBM to open her own business selling designer furniture.

She met her husband David Horsley through mutual friends.

They moved to Henley 17 years ago and she gave up her job to raise their two children. Mr Horsley works in clinical trials for the pharmaceutical industry.

Six years ago, she accepted a job as office manager at Leander Club, where she has remained ever since.

Cllr Thomas said: “When my kids came along, I didn’t want to leave them but at the beginning I didn’t want to give up work.

“I realised it wasn’t working — I was thinking of Tom when I was at work and about work when I was home with Tom, so I decided I wanted to focus on them and to be there for them. As they grew up, I joined Leander and I’ve never looked back. It gives me the opportunity to work with a lot of very ambitious and talented young athletes and that is what I enjoy the most about it.”

Cllr Thomas is also a trustee of the Henley Educational Trust and an associate governor of Badgemore Primary School.

She is pleased to have been elected Mayor: “I received so many messages that I’m not even sure I was able to respond to everyone.

“I’ve received so many cards, flowers and pictures. I’m going to make a scrapbook to remember this year by, so I can look back at it when I’m an old lady.

“It’s a privilege and I’m going to make the most of it.”

To donate to her causes, visit

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