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All the best: Jeffrey Donaldson on his favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

Published 28/09/2015

War historian: Jeffrey Donaldson
War historian: Jeffrey Donaldson

The 52-year-old is the DUP MP for Lagan Valley. He lives in Dromore with his wife, Eleanor and their daughters Claire (25) and Laura (23).

My best moment

It was sitting on the green benches in the Houses of Parliament having been just elected as Member of Parliament for Lagan Valley in 1997. I’m the oldest of eight children from an ordinary family in the Mournes, so to sit in the House of Commons for the first time was very special.

My best song

Mine is a hymn — Abide With Me — as it really speaks to me about my Christian faith. My favourite version is sung by Katherine Jenkins, who I actually met at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. That was another special moment.

My best way to relax

I like to read, but my special interest is war heritage and I’m the chairman of the all-party group on war heritage in the House of Commons. I love nothing more than visiting the graves of soldiers who died in past wars and to visit battlefields. Everywhere — from battlefields in Ireland going back to the 1600s — or the more recent ones in France and Belgium.

My best job

Being an MP for Lagan Valley. I trained as an electrical engineer for three years and then went straight into politics, which I’ve been doing ever since.

My best buy

Two tickets to a Formula One Grand Prix — my wife is a huge fan of Lewis Hamilton and Formula One racing. I got her the tickets for a Christmas present and I’m still earning brownie points for that one.

My best advice

A Christian friend once advised me that before I went to do any TV interviews or panels I should say a little prayer to keep me calm. It’s amazing the difference that makes and countless people have asked me over the years how I keep calm on TV when I’m involved in a shouting match with other politicians.

My best gift

My daughters both made Father’s Day cards for me when they were at primary school. Both cards read ‘You’re The Best Dad In The World’ on them. I still have them in my study at home, although I’m not sure if I have been the best dad in the world all the time. It was very special to receive those cards.

My best achievement

The best achievement I think anyone can have is to do something that influences the life of another person. For me the greatest privilege is that, as an MP, I have the opportunity to do things every day that make a difference on other people’s lives. From the peace process to helping people at their point of need. It makes politics all worth while.

My best book

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, which has a very powerful story highlighting the horror of the First World War. I now sit on the National First World War Centenary Advisory Board and I’ve come to know Sebastian very well as he’s on the board, too.

My best film

Saving Private Ryan - again it’s about war. That movie shows war in all its devastation but behind that are very human stories. It appealed to me because it showed the horror of war and at the same time highlighted the human cost and how it was about people.

Belfast Telegraph

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