Martin Horwood was born in Cheltenham in 1962 and grew up in Leckhampton. He first became involved in politics while still at school here in 1979. He went on to Oxford University to read Modern History in 1981, and was elected President of the Oxford Student Liberal Society. He later became Chair of the party’s national student wing, the Union of Liberal Students.
Martin went on to work in advertising and then in the voluntary sector. In 1990 he moved to Oxford to work for Oxfam and was also elected as a local Lib Dem district and parish councillor there. While at Oxfam, Martin’s teams raised tens of millions of pounds for the poor in developing countries, including £2.5m for victims of the Rwanda genocide. Martin fought the 1992 general election in Oxford East while Nigel Jones won Cheltenham for the Lib Dems.
Martin kept in close touch with home and joined groups like the Leckhampton Green Land Action Group (co-founded by his father Don Horwood) to support the campaign against over-development around Cheltenham.
In 1995 he married Dr Shona Arora who was then training in public health medicine. They moved to India for a year, Martin working for what would later become Oxfam India and Shona for the UN programme on AIDS and a small charity working on sexual health in the slums of Delhi.
They returned to the UK, Martin becoming the first Director of Fundraising at the Alzheimer’s Society. Martin led the charity’s successful push to be Tesco Charity of the Year, earning £2.5m for the charity nationally, including £16,000 for the Cheltenham branch of the Society alone. While living and working in London, Martin stood again for parliament in the constituency covering the City of London and Westminster.
Martin returned home to Cheltenham in 2001 to work for local business Target Direct (now Signal) supporting their many charity clients. He became Target’s Head of Consultancy before being elected as Cheltenham’s MP in 2005. Shona became Director of Public Health, first for Cheltenham and Tewkesbury, and then for Gloucestershire. She now works for Public Health England at national level. Martin and Shona have a daughter Maya and son Sam, who were both born in Cheltenham General and both go to school in Cheltenham.
So unlike the new Conservative MP, Martin (like his successor as Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Max Wilkinson) had lived and worked in Cheltenham BEFORE becoming a parliamentary candidate here!
Between the 2015 and 2017 election campaigns, Martin worked for the Bristol-based international development organisation Development Initiatives which uses data to inform the fight against global poverty.