If circumstances had been different, Lee Cartwright would now be living and working in New Zealand, rather than being one of only two elected Veteran’s and People’s Party councillors.
But it was that exactly that experience which resulted in him becoming a member of VAPP, so New Zealand’s loss was definitely our gain.
But how are New Zealand and VAPP linked, well…..
…a few years ago, Lee and his wife Laura had decided to emigrate to the other side of the world.
He had an offer of a job, so the couple had sold their house and cars and were preparing to move when, out of the blue, the company he was going to work withdrew the offer due to a restructure.
Thankfully, Lee found another job locally and settled again in his hometown of Hartlepool.
He takes up the story: “I decided then that if I wasn’t going to move away from Hartlepool, then I was going to try to make a difference in the town.
“I was born and bred in Hartlepool and the ward I now represent, Foggy Furze, is where I grow up and lived in until we sold our house to go to New Zealand, and like many parts of the town it has had its difficulties with crime and other issues.
“Historically, I have always voted Labour but I became disillusioned with how far to the left they had gone and then on the other side you had the Conservatives who had lurched very much to the right.
“So, I wanted to support a party that was more centralist and that I could support and get behind, and then I heard about VAPP.
“I read their manifesto and agreed with 80%-90% of it and I liked they have the word ‘truth’ in their logo because at the end of the day, this is all people want.
“Plus, being a former veteran, I liked the link to this.”
Lee joined the Army when he was 17 and served in the Green Howards. He served for almost 15 years, travelling to countries around the world, as well as tours in Kosovo, Northern Ireland, and Afghanistan.
He left the Army so he could settle down with Laura and now works as a Health and Safety Manager for Kellars, one of the UK’s largest independent flooring wholesale companies. Their logo is a ‘Business Built on Trust’, so that very much fits with Lee’s ethos.
Lee and Laura have two children, William, 7, and Eva, 10 months.
Lee says he is proud to be one of VAPP’s first elected councillors and hopes he will be joined by more in next year’s local elections.
He adds: “Since being elected I have campaigned to make Foggy Furze safer and championed the rights of veterans in the town, so I hope people have seen I am working hard and trying to make a difference.
“We may not be a well-known party at the moment, but there’s no reason why we can’t get more councillors elected in my town and other areas. People who understand the local issues and want to make a difference, like me.”