I was born in Aberdeen but grew up in Edinburgh. My first job was as a teacher in Glasgow but I soon returned to university to study law. This allowed me to work for a solicitor’s firm in Edinburgh that dealt with people receiving legal aid. I focussed on family law and represented clients in cases involving divorce, child protection and adoption.
I also did a lot of work for women who were victims of domestic violence, and developed close links with the charity Women’s Aid. As a result I got involved in setting up the Edinburgh Women’s Rape Crisis Centre in 1979. This provided advice for victims of rape and campaigned for more thorough police investigations and changes in the law of evidence to improve conviction rates for rapists.
I’m also a keen cyclist and I don’t own a car. I find it a really practical way of getting around Edinburgh. I was heavily involved in Spokes, a campaign for better cycling facilities in Edinburgh and the Lothians.
I was elected as Labour Councillor for Moredun in 1991. This was an area in which many houses lacked such basics as central heating and double glazing. I campaigned to get improvements carried out and new housing built and was appointed Convenor for Housing in 1999. I retained this position until I stood down from the council in 2007.
I was selected to be the Labour Party candidate for Edinburgh East in April 2009. I was elected in the General Election on 6 May 2010 – you can view my result here.
I am married to my husband Brian and we have four grown up children.