RICHARD Whelan has been named the Liberal Democrat candidate in this year's general election. 

The 47-year-old brings a long history of dedication to the party, having been a member since age 14 and actively campaigning from the outset.

Mr Whelan first got involved with campaigning almost immediately when he got in touch, and worked, with his then local Liberal Democrat councillor on a campaign aimed at installing traffic lights at a notorious accident black spot near Leeds/Bradford Airport; about a mile from where he lived at the time. 

Having caught the campaigning bug he proceeded to work alongside his then Leeds North West local party by recruiting new members and activists, and assisting with fundraising efforts, all of which contributed to winning the constituency at the 2005 general election. 

Physically disabled since birth, that has not stopped Mr Whelan from leading an independent life. 

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Basingstoke Gazette: Richard WhelanRichard Whelan (Image: Contributed)

After his education was disrupted at the age of 11, when he spent a total of six months at the Peto Institute in Budapest, involving intense exercise on both his upper and lower limbs, he returned to successfully complete his education and study for an international relations and politics degree at Coventry University where he achieved a 2:1 classification. 

After leaving Coventry, Mr Whelan spent a year as an administrative assistant at what was then the Benefits Agency in Leeds before undertaking numerous voluntary placements, including at Leonard Cheshire in London, where he gained experience of undertaking Policy Research ahead of completing two taught Masters: at Warwick (2002-2003) and Aberystwyth (2005-2006) in International Relations.

Mr Whelan continues to engage with the policy community. After leaving Keele in 2016 he undertook an informal investigation into the role of personal assistants, and how it could be improved to allow disabled people to live more independent lives, by speaking to both service users and stakeholders at the very heart of the planning process. 

He also became active again with the Liberal Democrats by serving on the West Midlands Regional Executive and assisting in a range of election campaigns, including standing as a Staffordshire County Council candidate for Westlands and Thisleberry in 2017 and as a Newcastle Borough Council candidate for Newcastle South in 2018. 

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There were also two occasions when he stood as a Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC): in Stoke on Trent North in 2017 and Warwickshire North in 2019.

In February 2024, Mr Whelan was again selected as a Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, this time for Basingstoke for the upcoming general election, where his priorities include Health, particularly in reducing the time it takes to get a GP appointment and increasing NHS dentistry provision, and the environment, where the elimination of raw sewage in our rivers is a particular area of concern. 

Away from politics, Mr Whelan loves spending time with friends and family and enjoys an occasional country walk.

The Basingstoke seat has been held by Conservative Maria Miller since 2005. 

As well as Dame Maria, the other confirmed candidates for the Basingstoke seat are: Luke Murphy (Labour), Richard Whelan (Liberal Democrats) and Michael Howard-Sorrell (Green Party).