Former Thatcher aide remembers leader

St. Augustine man worked with British prime minister for 3 years

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - As the world remembers former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, an icon in British politics, among those saddened by her loss is her former aide of three years, who now lives in St. Augustine.

Michael Pattison worked closely with Thatcher for three years. He said while she was a dominant force in the British political world, she was a woman of great integrity and grace.

Pattison showed photos from his days as a British public servant, a job that brought him alongside royalty such as Prince Charles. He said of all politicians he came into contact with, no one stood out quite like the "Iron Lady" herself -- Thatcher, Britain's first and only female prime minister.

"Churchill may be the dominant figure through the second World War, but you get into the post-war period and nobody has been as significant both domestically and internationally as Margaret Thatcher," Pattison said.

He said that during the three years he worked with her, she never once wavered from her beliefs. She had self-confidence, was dominant, and always stuck to what she felt was right.

"She would listen to other people, she would argue and challenge their ideas, sometimes absorbing their ideas," Pattison said. "But once she had made up her mind, she would stick to her guns throughout."

Pattison said Thatcher also had a softer and gentler side. He said that side really came out one day when his 2-year-old daughter was visiting and the only available toy was hanging from the prime minister's ear.

"So she climbed up onto Margaret Thatcher's lap and started playing with the earring," Pattison said. "And Margaret Thatcher wasn't remotely phased by this and took it in very good part."

Pattison said that above all, Thatcher was a woman who made a difference. He knows that legacy will live on in the hearts of Brits forever.

"I don't think anybody has taken to British politics by the scuff of their neck and dominated it for a decade and in the 20th century other than Margaret Thatcher," Pattison said. "It's a sad day. That's the passing thought."

Pattison and his family say their thoughts and prayers are with Thatcher's family. He said no matter what, he'll always remember her as a great woman and a great leader.

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