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'Socialist utopia' shaped my politics says Norwich South hopeful

PUBLISHED: 12:34 26 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:25 28 May 2017

Norwich South candidate Lana Hempsall with dog Clark
Picture: Adrian Judd

Norwich South candidate Lana Hempsall with dog Clark Picture: Adrian Judd

Archant 2011

Conservative hopeful Lana Hempsall spent most of her childhood in Slovenia.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd campaigning in Norwich with Mrs Hempsall (pictured right). Picture : ANTONY KELLYHome Secretary Amber Rudd campaigning in Norwich with Mrs Hempsall (pictured right). Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Although oblivious at the time she now recalls the censorship and power of the state as “terrifying”.

“I remember once my father, who is English, went out to work on a military island as a contractor,” she said. “But when he arrived because he had a British passport he was thrown in jail for four days. I experienced first hand what a socialist ‘utopia’ feels and looks like.”

But far-left politics were not the only obstacle to the young Mrs Hempsall. When she was just 14 she was diagnosed with incurable eye condition Stargardt disease. She was told she would be completely blind by the time she was 30.

“I have about 1% of my eye sight left – I am not sure how I’ve managed to hang on to even that small amount for as long as I have,” she said.

“Although blindness has not shaped my politics in the way growing up in the former Yugoslavia did it has made me who I am today – someone who is determined to make sure everyone has the chance to get on in their lives.

“I made a success of my life because a tiny handful of people believed in me when it felt like everything was stacked against me. I want to do the same for others and believe in the positive change we can make together.”

Mrs Hempsall is now assisted by trusty guide dog Clark and she says he is the perfect ice-breaker: “Clark is my eyes in more ways than one. Having him allows me to break down those barriers that people with normal sight do with eye contact.”

Mrs Hempsall was elected as a district councillor for Acle in 2011 and is a member of the Broads Authority. But now she feels she is ready for the step up to parliament.

“I am really enjoying meeting people on the doorsteps. I think the Conservatives can make a big difference in Norwich South.”

Also standing in Norwich South: Richard Bearman (Green), Clive Lewis (Labour), James Wright (Liberal Democrat).

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