Helen Liddell and her husband Alistair both come from Coatbridge in Lanarkshire, the town that grew out of the estate of Drumpellier, owned by the family of James Stirling, the Founding Governor of Western Australia, and where he was brought up. Every day of her University career, Helen left from Drumpellier station to go to Strathclyde University where she studied economics.
Starting work as an economist with the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Helen soon became immersed in the new oil and gas industries setting up in Scotland, knowledge that stood her in good stead when she visited WA, often meeting Scots who travelled down to Australia to work in the industry. A happy memory is a picture of Helen and a crowd of Aberdonians in front of the Kangaroo in the CBD.
From that start, her career soon took off, she joined the BBC as an economics reporter in Scotland, then left to become General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party. After 11 years and a string of successes, she left to write novels only to be lured into newspapers as Director of Corporate Affairs for Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd, at that time the most successful newspaper company in Scotland.
After that she became for a short time the CEO of a small Venture Capital company until duty called with the until the untimely death of her dear friend John Smith MP. Leader of the Labour Party and MP for Monklands East, her home seat. After a brutal by-election she entered Parliament, something she said, with a young family, she would never do.
With the election of the Labour Government in 1997, Tony Blair made her Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and for the next 8 years she held a number of high ministerial offices, including Energy Minister, until she became the first and only woman to become Secretary of State for Scotland. She was elevated to the Privy Counsel in 1998.
Leaving office and planning to leave Parliament to allow her husband to develop further his very successful career, Tony Blair asked her to become British High Commissioner to Australia, the first woman who was not a career diplomat, to become a Head of Mission in the history of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She lived in Australia from 2005 until 2009, and is still a frequent visitor.
When she completed her posting, Helen came back to Scotland and in 2010 was ennobled for her achievement in both Scotland and Australia. She took the title, Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, a council housing estate in Coatbridge where she, her parents and her husband and his parents came from.
Helen is active in the House of Lords, currently on the Select Committee that scrutinises trade deals, including currently the deal proposed with Australia. She also Chairs the company that owns the Married Quarters Estate of the Armed Forces, and she is a Trustee of the Northcote Trust, which funds postgraduate degrees in for British students in Australia. She is also a Non-Executive Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
And she likes to boast that she was twice the Chieftain of Shotts Highland Games, and she was also Chieftain of Bundanoon (NSW) Highland Games.